EL&tl:dr


“When you step up the environment to those speeds everything becomes psychedelic, you create the psychedelic thrill. The whole world becomes kaleidoscopic and you go inward, it’s not an outer trip.” Marshal McLuhan

“You don’t know Grand Funk? The shirtless antics of Mark Farner? The competent drumming of Don Brewer or the bong-rattling bass of Mel Schacher?” Homer Simpson

“It’s not a well defined line. If you’re in despair, if you’re in trouble, if your heart is broken, you turn to Jesus. In country music if you’re in despair or if your heart is broken then you go have a beer.” Larry Gatlin

“Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth.” Dr. Johnson

Last Wednesday only one piece of analog mail came through the slot. It was my invitation to experience something called “Senior Summer Camp.” This was my chance to spend a week at a nearby assisted living community to find out what the place was like and to supposedly, “Connect with people your age and have experiences just like the ones you had at camp all over again.”

There’s a panty raid you won’t wanna miss.

Know something?

I’m seriously considering it as it might be my only chance to live in one of those places Alaska Wolf Joe calls ‘the people pound.’

Why?

For openers our insurance company says we’re cancelled after TrumpCare (TM pend.) passes. Then there’s the small matter that the NRA has declared open season on registered Democrats, which doesn’t bother me because, as you can see below, the NRA is a little late to the party.

Lots of people have told me that’s a joke and that may very well be true, but none of them will be the one who finds out that somebody took it as an action plan.

When you pull those two items together then I might as well spend a week at the assisted living place as there’s no time like the present. Besides I might be able to help move the place into the future. Sooner or later there won’t be anybody left in the weekly Matlock Discussion Group. In a few years us Boomers born after 1955 will be plentiful enough that the weekly Matlock group will be replaced with bingo which means – as I’ve said many, many times before – sitting next to some guy who wants to tell you how he put bug spray in his bong while Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon comes screaming over the senior center’s public address system.

Heyyyyyyy speaking of Pink Floyd, that brings us to today’s topic – David Weigel’s The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock. While the book is jam packed with info it tends to be a bit subjective in that it probably comes closer to reflecting Weigel’s personal taste than being a prog-rock Baedeker. But realistically when you deal with niche music genres that’s bound to happen.

Therefore I shall give you my personal take on the alleged rise and fall of prog.

Say ‘YES!’ to Yes

In the 1990s several musicologists in Britain put forth the idea that much of the composition in the 19th Century suffered from Beethoven envy. They thought that the Ninth Symphony paralyzed some composers who thought that unless they came up with something that out 9th’d the 9th then they would only be remembered as artistic failures. Oddly enough musicians and performers in the 1970s were faced with the same problem when this irreproducible gem appeared in the early half of the decade.

Obviously you can only take in that exquisite melody and nuanced performance so many times before you find yourself emotionally drained and mentally spent.

So what were you to do back then?

Stereo equipment was reasonably affordable and records were less than $5 each so all you really had to do was find something else to listen to until you were in the proper frame of mind to experience the man we called, le Dandy.

Sure, there was plenty of popular music going around, but what was there to chose from?

God knows, the woods were full of sensitive singer songwriters. They’d put out all their feelings on the very first track of and then repeat the process eight or nine times to flesh out the album. This lead many of us to ask, “How many goddam feelings do you have?”

While I’ve never bought into the whole Beatles/Adorno/Frankfurt School conspiracy theory I am pretty much convinced that all the sensitive singer songwriters were part of a cabal lead by Rod McKuen.

So much for that.

And the cosmic cowboy stuff?

You listened to that at your risk. Back then people would listen to that stuff and be so overcome with such a peaceful easy feeling that they became motionless for weeks at a time. Even after they snapped out if it their movements were slow as if they lagged behind reality by a second or two. If you asked them a simple question like, “Do you know what time it is?” they would struggle to focus their attention on what you had said. Years later they saw the 70s as so much missing time and irretrievable memories. That’s why when people ask me, “HEY, did you see The Walking Dead last night?” I smile and say, “No, but I went to a Poco concert once.”

This didn’t leave much and as the sky was dark with Englishmen riding their winged dragons long enough for Roger Dean to get a pencil sketch down, prog seemed to be the best choice.

Proggy went a’courtin’

Weigel spends little time letting prog bask in its glory days. His summary of the peak years deals with personnel changes and band infighting. As such the back half of the book is pretty much about the genre’s decline.

For me the decline in the number of prog-rock albums I bought can be summed up in one word.

Girls.

A key element of popular music is that it lets you get up and work off some excess energy while allowing you the opportunity to get all sweaty with a member of the opposite sex.

Such was the case with Glen Miller, such was the case with Joey Ramone.

Back in my day prog was not something the young women liked much less tolerated. They’d flip through your record collection and when they got to the Fripp, Giles, Giles, Gong, and Fripp section they’d make a face like there was something nasty smelling in the room. If you said, “Look, I got the new Yes Album!” It didn’t register. Instead they could have sworn you said, “You know, my job at the rendering plant complements my passion for taxidermy perfectly.”

As an aside – yes, we went through people’s record collections. Back then there was no FB, Tinder, or credit scores. You judged people by the vinyl they owned. Today you look through somebody’s medicine cabinet, back then you took a couple of fingers and flipped through the records. You know, …Grand Funk … Bachman-Turner … Grand Funk … Doobie Brothers… Doobie Brothers… Doobie Brothers … what a maroon!

Don’t give me that look.

I saw you do it.

Prog was a total failure when it came to courtship. You can’t dance to it, there’s not one single album that features anything anybody would admit to as being “our song,” and what kind of relationship would you be part of if you met somebody who was OK with making out to Van der Graaf Generator?

Because … damn … that’s just … damn

Weigel says there was one single moment when it was obvious prog was done. Early in the book he spends some time talking about how Procol Harum’s Whiter Shade of Pale as the one song that lead Brit pop musicians into prog. Some of them had long wanted to break out of the 4/4 structure and let things like an organ take the lead instead of the guitar. So when Peter Gabriel ran out his punk version of the song in 1979 it was an announcement, from no less that one of the major figures in prog, that its era had come and gone.

Days of Future Passed

The book does deal with the current state of the genre which begins with elders introducing the music to their young (see the video above) but finding it’s not something the kids take to readily.

The book’s intro and last chapter talk about how prog hasn’t really come back around again. Jon Anderson tried to get newer proggy kind of groups to tour with some of the Yes reunions, but it was a bust. Us potty old duffs don’t want to hear anything new – we just want to hear what we listened to in our teen years over and over and over again. That’s why prog nostalgia cruise ship tours do very well with middle aged high-school science teachers and graying tech workers.

Not surprising. When he was much younger AWJ liked DSOTM and we even went to see Roger Waters perform it live. But I think that’s a far as he got. A few years ago while stuck in traffic we got to talking about prog and he brought up some on his phone to play over the car’s sound system.

His verdict.

“Wow, that’s awful.”

Oh well.

And what of the book?

It’s an interesting read, but the breathless style leaves something to be desired. Sorta like the author staged a 50th anniversary celebration in a train station with people coming and going and talking over each other while others strained to hear the departure announcements. You might want to wait for it to come out in paperback or pick it up at a yard sale while you’re out on some fine Saturday morning looking for old Roky Erickson records.

The book’s single greatest fault is that Weigel is no fan of Krautprog. In fact he dismisses all of it in one sentence saying the German language and understanding of musicality never lent itself to prog.

But he carries on about PFM for five pages.

No shit.

Again – what to make of a given genre is always subjective, but no mention of Can, Air, Guru Guru, Neu, or even the more accessible stuff like Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk?

If we take that at face value that means I’m walking around with this massive body of useless knowledge – half of which – Weigel thinks is as practical as hoarding Weimar pfennigs.

Bastard.

FYI

On a wholly unrelated note – the family reunion is progressing well. A cousin from the midwest and I will be comparing our genealogy research notes and hoping like hell we’re not related to these two.

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?

mmmmm … meaty

“Media theorists discuss the body primarily as the site of the senses, (see senses) however Descartes began his discussion of the body as an assertion from the mind. The Cartesian man establishes his existence and the limits of his physical being through the existence and limits of his senses. “I think therefore I am” most simply articulates the self identifying the senses of the self, to the self’s body. Lacan complicates this understanding of the body, though, with his discussion of the “mirror stage” of child psychological development. Lacan theorizes that man, sensing himself from within his own body, is only able to conceive of his body as an accumulation of pieces–or other bodies. This accumulation is only truly composed, when the whole is viewed in reflection, at a distance, alone. For Lacan, bodily integrity or wholeness is only achieved with the assistance of an ‘other’ seemingly detached object–the mirror. This differs from Descartes because the Cartesian man is an accumulation of parts sensed simultaneously as one whole body, whereas the Lacanian subject can not conceive of the whole body until the entire entity is visualized–a primitive media interaction. Maurice Merleau-Ponty engages these conflicting arguments, claiming that while the Lacanian man feels disembodied by this distanced image of his whole, the Cartesian man feels comfortable with his self-sensed self, and identifies the image as a model of himself, rather than his detached self. In Lacan’s model, selfhood may only be understood with the assistance of an outside object–i.e. one mirror. Lacan reflects on the destabilizing effect this discovery can have–realizing that identity is only definable with the aid of an outside object. This is the beginning of the new thoughts on embodiment.” – Maggie Hansen

“Today at F8, Facebook revealed it has a team of 60 engineers working on building a brain-computer interface that will let you type with just your mind without invasive implants. The team plans to use optical imaging to scan your brain a hundred times per second to detect you speaking silently in your head, and translate it into text.Regina Dugan, the head of Facebook’s R&D division Building 8, explained to conference attendees that the goal is to eventually allow people to type at 100 words per minute, 5X faster than typing on a phone, with just your mind.Eventually, brain-computer interfaces could let people control augmented reality and virtual reality experiences with their mind instead of a screen or controller. Facebook’s CEO and CTO teased these details of this “direct brain interface” technology over the last two days at F8. – Josh Constine

“What was it he used to say (after the transformation when he was safe & invisible & the unbelievers couldn’t throw stones?) ‘Heh, heh, heh. Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.'” – Amiri Baraka

“She had a snake for a pet and an amulet and she was breeding a dwarf but she wasn’t done yet She had gray-green skin, n doll with a pin I told her she was awright but I couldn’t come in (actually, I was very busy then) She said she was A Magic Mama and she could throw a mean Tarot And carried on without a comma That she was someone I should know” – generally attributed to the Comedia Del”Arte

“When a man knows he is to be hanged in a fortnight, it concentrates his mind wonderfully.” – Dr. Johnson

Every now and again you have to take a plunger to your zeitgeist.

Make yourself comfortable, we’re gonna be here for awhile.

MEATY!

The sun finally came out which in turn brought people out of their homes and into our business district. Walking along with the rest I had to stop and wait for the light to change. Standing next to me was a tall thin man who was whistling. He caught the attention of everybody waiting on the corner as he was one darn fine whistler. He was whistling along with perfect pitch and feeling in a most entertaining way.

His selection?

The Mighty Mouse theme.

On Whistler’s other side was a woman carrying an enormous purse. She was transfixed. She never took her eyes off of him. She was also the first to notice that his mood was changing. Even though he stopped she didn’t break her stare. When he started again he only whistled the refrain, “Here I come to save the day.” only in a lower key and at a much lower volume. The light stayed red and that’s when refrain grew darker and emerged like Whistler just tasted something nasty. Whistler stepped off the curb into the gutter then back up onto the sidewalk and at that moment the light changed.

Sure hope Mr. Trouble wasn’t hanging around as Whistler took off at what could only be called a trot taking with him that mighty sound. The woman with the outsized purse watched him for a second or two then looked at me and asked, “Wonder what’s going on in his head?”

An excellent question dear lady, but hardly a new one.

Wondering what’s in the other guy’s head is an ancient quest. Some anthropologists believe that somewhere in prehistory warriors ate the brains of their enemy believing it would give them complete insight into the other guy’s thinking. Today nobody believes you could derive such a benefit some such a thing. Making matters worse, last week The National Geographic Society said there’s no much nutrition to be had by eating your fellow human being.

So what does that leave us?

If the F8 Conference is any indication we’ll soon be able to twitch, shimmy, and spit our vacation photos directly onto our Facebook pages which will then lead to the slippery slope of creating the human-brain-to-computer interface. The outcome will most likely be some way to hook up some sort of electronics directly into your nervous system and that interface will be provided by some large corporation like FB or Samsung.

Or to use the indelicate term by hackers years and year ago,”One day there’ll be a way for somebody to jack into your meat.”

And what’s the payoff?

Now that The Guardian revealed Facebook’s policies on being no fun it’s not like we’re going to get to see what’s flying through the brains of the Patrick Batemans of the world. Hell, we might not even get to see your Uncle Ed’s constant dithering over Ginger vs. Mary Ann.

If there’s no entertainment value in seeing what going on in the other guy’s head then let the Scandinavians be chipped and we shall sit quietly and pretend to be enthused when we see the inner workings of their minds fly past us on social media.

“Neil dear, I think there’s something you should know. Listen: to be eccentric, you must first know your circle.” Miss Webster

Some of you have asked how the family reunion is coming along.

So far it demands that you become something like a Cold-War-Kremlin watcher.

The communication ranges from pitiful to alarmingly paltry. On the older end we are graced with family who doesn’t want that damn Internet in the house because it could start a fire. On the other end there’s several of those guys between the age of 45 and 60 who only use a computer at work and then only sparingly. At night they park themselves on the couch trying to develop a taste for Matlock so that they’ll more easily transition into their Golden Years. Somewhere in the middle is the cousin organizing the whole thing who seems to be the only other person besides myself who is not afraid to use a computer and who will admit to owning a smart phone.

His last email simply said,”Looks like your niece is coming.”

Niece?

At this point most of you are asking, “Aren’t you, thank you Jesus, an only child?”

There was a dog . . . I remember that . . . we had a dog . . .

Meanwhile you’re asking, “Did you ask him what he meant by that?”

Did I mention that Cousin Other Smart Phone Owner’s favorite thing is going off the grid?

After sending that email he went straight to Billy Jack, Arizona after leaving his smart phone with his sister in Phoenix before he went walkabout.

Never mind that I’m riddled with anxiety over the whole thing. If we go then at some point I have to wade through all the mud that others created long before I was born. A few cousins think if we talk it through it will be like traveling back in time and healing a wound and once we’re done everything will be fine.
They mean well, but at some point I must square my shoulders and deal with the bad things that happened long before I was born. That means grief, sorrow, and many other things. Sure some of them try to explain it, but as Mom’s mom Granmmom once said, “You should be happy. Your friends are your family. You made a family for yourself. How about that?”

She was a wise woman.

To honor what she said you have my solemn promise that I will not use this page to bother you with all the anxious moments I’ve had and will probably continue to have over getting together with my relations.

Because that’s what Medium’s for.

One housekeeping note:

Recently the cat and this page turned 17.

Years ago the cat would spend the summer nights endlessly going from window to window all over the house to see what critters were going about in the night. Now he gets off the bed at first light, sticks his head between the vertical blinds on the sliding glass door, look around some, comes back to bed, and flops all over Mom.

The output of this page, minus the Mom flopping, has followed a similar trajectory.

But you knew that.

Want whipped cream on your Dr. Pepper?

“Nothing beats the taste sensation when maple syrup [claps his hands] collides with ham.” Dale Cooper, government employee

“But I am, of course, a dirty leftist commentator, and will play fast and hard with the truth.” Alaska Wolf Joe


“The younger people are probably the most junior people on the team; for them to say something, they would have to be really confident in themselves. To have a younger millennial account person go up to a senior creative person and say, ‘We’re not going to do this, we think there’s a problem with it’ — that’s an uncomfortable power position to put a young person into. Products don’t solve problems. They’re trying to present a product as a solution to a very large, very important, very serious cultural and societal problem. The only way a company can get away with doing that kind of thing is if they’re really doing something. You can’t tell me that you’re doing that, Pepsi.” – Mara Epstein, Ph.D., Professor of media studies at Queens College


“I think the message that Pepsi hoped would come out of it is that Pepsi is in touch with what is going on. It would get young people thinking, ‘Is Pepsi a brand for me?’ But they missed the point. It’s completely overproduced. If you want something to feel at all genuine, why are you using celebrities? Let alone celebrities that have no association whatsoever with the thing you’re advertising. It makes sense that this was done in-house because it doesn’t have the creative rigor that an outside ad agency would bring. People at the agency rip each other to pieces if something isn’t good. It’s harder for that stuff to get made by an ad agency. I think what probably happened in this case is that someone just really wanted to use Kendall Jenner. Someone inside attached themselves to the thought that she is really of the moment. It’s really transparent when we do that. If you’re going to use a celebrity, you really need to have a good reason to use them. The world is craving authenticity, even if authenticity is a completely overused word. People want these things to feel real. Like use real people. This ad was the least relatable piece of communication I’ve ever seen. It feels manipulative. People are not stupid. I think they were smart to take it down. It looks like it could cost $2 million just for production alone … And having Skip Marley do the music doesn’t make a difference. Even if you had Migos do the soundtrack. Even if Offset had written the soundtrack, purely out of love for Pepsi, it wouldn’t have worked. – ad exec who did not wished to be named

“The Theater of the Absurd dramatizes the recent dilemma of Western man, the man of action who appears not to be involved with the action. Such is the original and appeal of Samuel Beckett’s clowns. After 3000 years of specialist explosion and increasing specialism and alienation in the technological extensions of our bodies, our world has become more compressional by dramatic reversal. As electrically contracted, the globe is no more than a village. Electric speed in bringing all social and political functions together in a sudden implosion has heightened human awareness of responsibility to an intense degree. It is this implosive factor that alters the position of the aristrocrat, the teenager, and some other groups. They are now involved in our lives, as we in theirs, thanks to electric media.” Marshall McLuhan 1958

“It is not very easy to fix the principles upon which mankind have agreed to eat some animals, and reject others; and as the principle is not evident, it is not uniform. That which is selected as delicate in one country, is by its neighbours abhorred as loathsome.” Dr. Johnson

Now and then we like to have an outing that will keep our credentials as cultural anthropologists in good working order. Our preferred destination for such things is Los Angeles, but time and Alaska Wolf Joe’s ongoing experimentation with being a coastal elitist on the opposite coast have limited our options. Sure, Portland’s close, but even there we’ve worn down the possibilities there to little more than running out some tepid snark about the town being wholly dependent on foreign beard oil.

Instead we decided on coastal Oregon so that we test the proposition, “In Heaven there is no high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) that’s why we put it in everything here.”

Make yourself comfortable, we’re gonna be here awhile.

The central engine that drives coastal Oregon forward is neither lumber nor tourism. Instead the entire area seems to run on a limitless supply of pancake batter and whipped cream. The more successful eateries resemble one of those infinitely re-arrangeable executive toys you’d find in the SkyMall catalog. It makes little difference if you come alone or with a party of 12. The tables can be bent or shaped into any number of configurations as if they were made from Silly Putty instead of wood. The ensuing breakfast, which the locals still believe is the most important meal of the day, is surprising low on dairy products. Perhaps the butter would only get in the way of the whipped cream, several flavors of syrup, and soda pop which seems to be every bit as popular as coffee at that time of day.

These scalable breakfast nooks also come with attached gift shops as knick-knackery is a serious component in the coast GDP. Each offers a wide selection of Christmas ornaments year-round and the following items, each of which we took a pass on:

– Plush Oregon Duck mascot
– Plush Santa Oregon Duck mascot*
– Plush leprechaun Oregon Duck mascot*
– Plush Easter Bunny Oregon Duck Mascot
– Plush camo/Rambo Oregon Duck mascot
* Denotes discounted item

Pushing away from the breakfast table and wandering out to work off the HFCS we’d injested we found this retail establishment.

When we tried the front door we found they weren’t open yet, but my mind was reeling.

Vegan alligator?

Is he in a tank in the back or some old bathtub? Did they caulk up and old show stall and keep him there? Does he have a name like Free or Wind? Wondering aloud about that last one Mom said, “Alligators live in water, so you gotta think of a water sign, probably Aquarius or Aquaria if it’s a gal gator”.

OK, but does he do tricks? Does he play hacky sack with a trainer? Can tourists buy little bags of pressed quinoa cut into shapes that look like little fish?

Because if those were around it would blow open the synapses on each and every French postmodernist alive!

Oh hey – speaking of semiotics – while in Oregon my Tuesday began with this 3-minute video popping up in my Tweety.

And my afternoon ended with Kendall Jenner sticking the HFCS to The Man!

Here to explain all things related to those on the lower rung the Kardassia is our own Alaska Wolf Joe –

Consider, I suppose, that the Pepsi ad is much like the Syrian attack which it so closely pairs with chronologically, a simile of bourgeois hors d’oeuvres and red wine, flesh and blood. Perhaps as Barthes would point out, red wine itself creates insatiable thirst at best, and at worst is a consequence of the social event (war). (Barthes’ Mythologies, “Wine and Milk.” To summarize here, I recall Barthes’ analysis of wine as being paradoxically dry but thirst quenching – in that in his own terms, “[…] at least thirst serves as an initial alibi for its consumption[…]” (Mythologies 79) To note briefly here of war, it is similarly a galvanizing act of quenching, its initial process claims to be a reagent in the reaction of peace, at least at the outset.)

I. Pepsi

No doubt in the mythology of the infamous Kendall Jenner advertisement, Pepsi itself is portrayed a nourishment of the body, that which quenches thirst. A better question to be asked of the commercial may be this: Why are they thirsty? The ideological supposition itself is immediately formed, “They are thirsty for justice!” but this is a lie.
I read it as that they thirst because they are attractive, creative, and have a surplus of sexuality – they are thirsty precisely because they are bodies in motion, but particular bodies: bodies of enjoyment. This thirst is not caused of a natural biological need, rather at the outset we can compare it with surplus value: it is the thirst of those who can afford to waste their biological energy in Spectacle. It is their raw hedonism of pleasure through protest, pleasure through art, pleasure through imagined narratives of “countercultural critique” which enables them to be thirsty. It is the perspiration of jouissance. They can only afford this thirst because of their status with regards to Capital. If they were truly proletarian, this Spectacle would be impossible, the thirst would become dangerous. It is not so disparate of course, worker’s hands have still manufactured this Pepsi, but it is precisely this which causes these young bourgeois to thirst. For the workers themselves are already thirsty, are already suffering – they could enjoy a nice cold Pepsi. The young bourgeoisie lacks this thirst; they do not have nearly such a miserable condition in life. They must become more symptomatic, more laborious. They must create thirst in order to enjoy this Pepsi. And what an enjoyable Pepsi it will be, once they have earned it.

To compare, here is Zizek on soft drinks:

A more pressing issue is at hand that regards the political in the commercial itself. I had recently watched Fritz Langs’ Metropolis, a great film of ambiguity regarding the bourgeois support of the worker as Spectacle. One of the things most mystifying about the film is that we do not know precisely what it is that the machines do. In the inadvertent gaze of Langs’ directorial sensibility and the overtones of the script, this renders the workers even more as an inanimate object unto themselves – even more as an undifferentiated whole only recognizable for labor value, removed and alienated of their subjectivity, brought through to the “self-consciousness” of their position in the master and slave dialectic. There is nothing more they are conscious of, and nothing more that we are conscious of, than that they are laborers. Their machines are nameless, their work is nameless, and they themselves (virtually) are nameless.
Contrast this, of course, with what we are offered here in the Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad. Its most infamous initial image is simply of that of protest signs devoid of any coherent message. It is a revolution without organs. A woman in a hijab scribbles on photography. What is she photographing? Kendall Jenner poses in front of a mirror. What is she modeling for? A man plays a cello. We do not hear the music he plays.

It extends too to the actions: This man perspires over his cello, this supposedly Muslim woman throws these photographs aside, Kendall Jenner discards her wig and (miraculously) changes into a proletarian costume, revealing her “authenticity”.

Why?

Inevitably, there is no answer. For what is there to consider of it but Spectacle? What are they joining, of course, but Spectacle? The musicians in the street, the break dancers whispered of briefly in the montage are the most authentic consumers in the whole commercial: they are already aware that this is a celebration, a perverted Carnaval, a burlesque of revolution.

Do not focus on the moment which has now cemented itself in our cultural conscious of Kendall Jenner handing a Pepsi to a cop1. Focus on the sequence afterwards, in which the cop smiles and looks over at the other cop in a knowledge of agreement. An agreement to what? An agreement to enjoyment. This is precisely what is novel about this commercial, what is truly revolutionary. For there is no longer a moment of free love, the uninhibited flow of orgone, no longer mass revolt, no longer “hanging them by the last bit of rope which they will sell us” there is—enjoyment. The revolution here is that the entire world will become a Pepsi commercial. The gross surplus enjoyment, the raw and impossible jouissance of all existence is nothing but an orgiastic enjoyment of Pepsi unto infinity.
Consider then the impossible fantasy of a Pepsi commercial, so enjoyable that it never ends – it is a never-ending montage of fantastical commercial enjoyment, it is this revolution without organs which we have glimpsed carrying on ad infinitum, it continues until the entire world’s factories have stopped, that the world’s population is starving, the clouds have darkened with pestilence, our urine has turned black with blood from kidneys which have tasted naught but Pepsi for years, and finally into the absence of God’s position in the heavens a lone voice screams: “Pepsi!” This is the horrid jouissance of Pepsi. The impossible horror of a commercial reaching its liminal conclusion in death.

Is this not how the end of the world will look? Will it not look like this commercial?

AWJ’s thoughts on Pepsi and Syria continue here.

As that’s all a bit much to chew on in one sitting, no matter how much Log Cabin syrup and whipped cream you put on it, I shall be succinct.

Barthes becomes difficult to use in after information becomes suddenly ubiquitous and easily manufactured. The old media was based on the scarcity of the means to produce content which is why co-opting symbols – as seen in the video above – made sense. His Mythologies remains an important read and maybe well go into this more at a later time.

Meanwhile – being the low season on the Oregon coast the store’s hours were highly variable and thus my search for the vegan alligator will have to continue in the summer months.

Until then I will whistle this happy tune.

Messy

“In today’s all-farm-to-table-everything environment of “conscious consumerism”––where we’re willing to pay more for a steak if we’re told the cow was happy before somebody slaughtered it, clothing companies like Everlane use their dedication to “radical transparency” as a marketing tactic, and it is possible to purchase fair trade cocaine on the deep web––a product’s worth is often linked to the perceived ethics of those who produce it. When it comes to music, this means that artists are viewed as part and parcel with the work they create. If they seem like a decent person, we’re more apt to listen to their music with favorable ears; conversely, if we enjoy their work, there is part of us that automatically assumes that person embodies the values we assign to their music.” Drew Millard

“But by the following year, in Age of Spin, Chappelle has figured out what he wants to say about Cosby, a man he says ‘has a legacy I can’t just throw away.’ He mourns the loss of Cosby as someone to be heralded as an entertainment pioneer and an icon who paved the way for black men to follow in his comedic footsteps (though Chappelle’s comedy is, uh, a little more explicit than Cosby’s ever was). He marvels at the sheer amount of time Cosby must have devoted to assaulting women, estimating that his ‘400 hours of rape’ makes the 65 hours you need to get a pilot’s license look like nothing. One of the best moments in either special comes when Chappelle dissects a confrontation that happened during one of his own shows, when a young white woman kept interrupting him as he tried to talk about Cosby. She apparently started shouting, ‘Women suffer!’ while Chappelle kept trying to say, ‘I know!’ But he describes drawing the line when she tried to insist that her suffering was the same as Chappelle’s. ‘She had no idea,’ he says, shaking his head. ‘Bill Cosby was a hero to me.’ What Chappelle wishes she would’ve understood — and what he keeps telling his audiences in Age of Spin and Deep in the Heart of Texas, as he has throughout his career — is that a lot of this stuff is more complicated than many might want to admit.” Caroline Framke

“All this while, Mailer has in clutch Why Are We in Vietnam? He had neglected to bring his own copy to Washington and so had borrowed the book from his hostess on the promise that he would inscribe it. (Later he would actually lose it – working apparently on the principle that if you cannot make a hostess happy, the next best thing is to be so evil that the hostess may dine out on tales of your misconduct.) But the copy of the book is now noted because Mailer, holding it one hand and the mug of whiskey in the other, was obliged to notice on entering the Ambassador Theater that he had an overwhelming urge to micturate. The impulse to pass urine, being for some reason more difficult to restrain when both hands are occupied, there was no thought in the Master of Ceremonies’ mind abut the alternatives – he would have to find The Room before he went on stage.” Norman Mailer from Armies of the Night


“A new age is upon us – and yet the some old qualities, love and admiration of them, still remain. These qualities are to exist and find their expression in new forms, comformable to modern life, usages, and tastes. Otherwise, we shall have but a nation of smirking persons, polite, dapper, genteel, and correct, following the established forms, their shrunken frames concealed in costumes, because, if they were stript, their meagerness and deformity would disgust the world.” Walt Whitman


“The art of the writer, like that of the player, is attained by slow degrees. The power of distinguishing and discriminating comick characters, or of filling tragedy with poetical images, must be the gift of nature, which no instruction nor labour can supply; but the art of dramatick disposition, the contexture of the scenes, the involution of the plot, the expedients of suspension, and the strategems of surprise, are to be learned by practice; and it is cruel to discourage a poet for ever, because he has not from genius what only experience can bestow.” Dr. Johnson

What follows is a disjointed mess that comes from a week of blogger’s block exacerbated by unexpected grief.

My bad!

For those of you just tuning in, here’s how the division of labor works around here. Mom hears about a Rubber Chicken Dinner (RCD) and if it warrants attendance I go. Early in the week she got word that a “leading figure” in the community was retiring after 35 years ceaselessly toiling away at his no-show job so he could raise money for one of the two better known political parties. Our representation was required because he managed to scare up major cash for those who immediately represent us. Per Mom – not only would our local solons be stuffing their faces, they’d also be at the podium to dole out a few words which had a very close scrape with the heartfelt and sincere.

The treacherous portion of The RCD goes by a couple of names. Some call it “the pre-func” while others try to whitewash its sins by calling it “The Social Hour.” In either case only the most extroverted among us come away unscathed. Seeing as that I am not one of those outgoing lucky few I live in dread of the last 15 minutes before dinner is served as that’s the time when trouble seeks out the shy and reserved.

And this quarter hour was a doozy.

Looking across the room I saw two people charging right at me. Within seconds they were do close to me that the words “personal space” lost all meaning.

HIM: Are you who we think you are?
HER: (taking my chin and tilting my head up) Who looks after your sideburns, your dog?
ME: We don’t have a …
HER: Nonsense!
HIM: Look for a mustache, I’m not seeing one!
HER: Where is your mustache?
ME: It and the girlfriend who insisted I grow one disappeared about ’81.
HIM: No beard?
HER: (Tilting my head the other way) No beard!
HIM: Then you are not who we thought you were!

Glad we cleared that up?

Good thing those two weren’t amateur phrenologists or I’d still be there.

Wait, there’s more.

Now on Medium: Visit the (sic) and bury the lede

Regardless of how March came in where you live it went out with two RCD’s here. A few days after receiving a critique of my facial hair (see above) I had to wander out for the retirement dinner of a local business exec. His company was giving him a big send off for his many, many years of having roughly the same DNA as the company’s founder. There were many stories and jokes about his endless golf trips which painted a much larger picture – a picture of dedicated employees who were relieved when he was in Palm Springs or Vegas or Phoenix because then they could get some work done.

Taking no chances I arrived 5 minutes before dinner was the be served to avoid any Imperial entanglements.

Silly me!

The entanglements waited until I was in the parking lot.

A guy I see around the neighborhood every so often comes up and says, “Hey – you know about th’ social media right?”

o…k… sure …

He gets between me and my driver’s side door, put a finger in my face and lets go with, “I went to this thing about business using Facebook and the other shit and it was all a bunch of damn kids. Ever heard of the Medium bloggers?”

Sadly … yes.

“They say you gotta get a Medium so you can be a thinker leader!”

I think the term is “thought leader.”

“Yeah, yeah! You gotta do that. You gotta do a Medium blog and it’ll be all about you and how you are the guy who’s working on all this social media blogging!”

Sorta like Armies of the Night.

(long pause)

“I guess you can write about 80s bands if you want. Use ‘em like those things, those metaphors and similarities! Isn’t that what you blogger guys do?”

The upshot here is that the guy paid good money to sit through six hours of metric-free anecdotes delivered in a peppy tone from a panel of Silicon Valley executives. For all that money he felt he had come away with knowledge that resembled nothing more than the All New, two-topping, Saltines and Mayo Special from Domino’s. I didn’t heave the heart to tell him that all FUTURE OF THE MEDIA conferences are like that.

In short – his solution was to get somebody who is twice the age of the average conference panelist (i.e me) who won’t so much inject perspective into the discussion as dump cold water all over it. He was looking for somebody who would smother the panel in pessimism and gloom.

And I’m just the man to do it!

Hey – it took me years to build my brand and I’m proud of it.

So BOO-YAH you high-sheriff panel talkin’ motherfuckers!

Truth is you don’t need me. What’s going on with the conventional media (papers, tv, cable, & radio) is obvious. Just this week Bloomberg turned lose something that can be called ESPN’s memorial service pre-func.

Voici!

ESPN broke ground on this $175 million, 194,000-square-foot facility, called Digital Center 2, in 2011. It was billed by executives as “future-proof,” capable of adapting to any possible change in the way people watch sports. At the time, ESPN looked indestructible. Its namesake cable channel had just topped 100 million subscribers and was posting record profits for its parent company, Walt Disney Co., even as streaming apps such as Netflix were growing rapidly. Ratings for live sports, unlike almost everything else on TV, were soaring. And ESPN had big games year-round—Monday Night Football, college football bowl games, Major League Baseball’s opening day, and the NBA playoffs, to name a few. A cover story in this magazine in the fall of 2012 dubbed ESPN the “Everywhere Sports Profit Network.”

Five years later the network’s profits are shrinking, and the 10,000-square-foot SportsCenter studio has already begun to look like a relic. The show’s formula, in which well-fed men in suits present highlights from the day’s games with Middle-American charm, is less of a draw now that the same highlights are readily available on social media. Viewership for the 6 p.m. edition of SportsCenter, a bellwether for the franchise, fell almost 12 percent from 2015 to last year, according to Nielsen. Keith Olbermann, the SportsCenter-host-turned-political-commentator, put it bluntly on a podcast last year: “There’s just no future in it.”

Nobody needs a Medium page.

It’s all out there if you know where to look.

Besides – a Medium page?

You do have your dignity to consider.

I do believe that these applauses are for some new honors that are heaped on Caesar.

The Paris Review ran out this memory of Chuck Berry a couple of days after he died.

“Bo Diddley had been backstage with him one time and was talking about magic and the radio. Back then a lot of people believed that the radio was magic, that sound waves traveled to different dimensions, maybe all the way to heaven. You ever get this little shiver in your spine, Bo Diddley asked him, like it’s hot and cold at the same time? That means someone’s been making love while a song of yours is on the radio. It goes right through the air and slips back into your soul. You know? And then, you ever get a sudden pain in your left foot, sharp, like a needle’s gone into it? That means somebody died while your song was on the radio. Somebody died.

“That was too much. It spooked him, and he’d gone to the library and checked out all the books they had on mysticism and magic. Madame Blavatsky and books on past lives and the occult. He read through most of them, but it made his head spin, and he stepped away from all of that.

“ ‘I don’t know,’ he said, and he shook his head. ‘I wouldn’t let any of them work on my car. Not one of them.’”

This list has been sitting on a legal pad for a few months.

Fatty Arbuckle
Woody Allen
Bill Cosby
Chuck Berry
Gauguin

Here’s the problem of how I can now come to a conclusion. The greater point I was after was the separation of creator and creation. Chuck Berry was proof that you can outlive your scandal(s) for a time, but the second you die your mistakes will come right on back. Berry’s death coincided with Dave Chappelle’s Netflix specials. Both were shot a couple of years ago, but the most recent ends with Chappelle trying to make sense of Bill Cosby.

Critics of the show – incorrectly- griped that Cosby did not lead to the comedy of Dave Chappelle. Cosby was one of the pioneers in a new form of comedy that did not rely on mother-in-law or women driver set-up and punch line jokes. Cosby brought forth a new form where comics talked about their lives. The material was based on life and the inadvertent discovery of humorous moments. At the end of the Cosby bit Chappelle runs out the many honorable things Cosby did while still acknowledging that 400 hours spent raping women is as heinous as it can get, but he still doesn’t know what to make of it and he ends with a look in his eye – the look you see older guys get – when they really don’t know if they’ll ever make sense of it.

That’s why my short list will most like remain on my shelf. I’m not sure what I’m to make of it either. I offer no defense of what the men on that list did nor do I condone their sins. In fact, the thought of Chuck Berry reading Madame Blvatsky stopped me in my tracks for an afternoon.

What are we to make of that?

In the meantime – please – let’s not get into political correctness.

Please save that paltry and threadbare out-of-the-box answer for another time.

Instead take a moment and wonder if the old Romans were right to wait for 100 years before they undertook the study of a famous life.

While you do that there’s a rumor that an evening of karaoke has been added to the family reunion so I must prepare something.

Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies

“In Vegas, if you make over a 100 big ones a week, your last name is never used: Frank plays Vegas, and Dean and Shecky; so does Jerry Vale.” John Gregory Dunne

“Meanwhile, I kept traveling the American countryside playing my songs, telling my jokes, and consciously infecting toilet seats practically everywhere I went. This included (in what was an unfortunate career move) Kenny Rogers brand-new 40-foot jade toiler seat. I vividly remember emerging from Rogers’s extremely ornate dumper into his sequined living room. The Southern California sun was ricocheting ferociously from the chandelier to the swimming pool to the tennis courts and back again into my right iris. ‘You ol’ storyteller, you’ I said humorously. ‘I can understand the chandelier, the swimming pool, the tennis courts – but Kenny, ‘ I asked shaking my head incredulously, ‘why in the world would you need a 40-foot jade toilet seat?’ “Well Kink,’ he said wistfully, ‘we never had one of those when I was growin’ up.’” Kinky Friedman

“You’re my older brother, Fredo and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.” Michael Corleone


“By taking a second wife he pays the highest compliment to the first, by showing that she made him so happy as a married man, that he wishes to be so a second time.” Dr. Johnson

“It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.” Groucho Marx

How did last week go?

Let’s take a peek.

– Managed to get some public realtions hotshot from Chicago off the phone by promising him all my business when my startup, InfantiGo gets off the ground.

– Told someone to her face that if she’s afraid of “cyberbullies” then she should either get used to being called a “snowflake” or a “libtard” or get off the Internet altogether. After she was a safe distance away Mom told me I had just been speaking to the person who ran the statewide Trump campaign.

– Someone phoned, yelled, “I KNOW YOU TOOK MY DOG!” and hung up. The same person called a minute or so later yelled, “AND DON’T BE FEEDING HIM THAT DRY SHIT YOU BOUGHT AT TARGET!” Haven’t heard anything further, but the cat has been tasked to let us know if he sees a dog running around the house.

– Got invited to a family reunion.

Ten or so years ago there was The Golden Age of The Bloggitysphere. Some of you will remember that it was much like the golden age of Ancient Greece only with cat pictures instead of statues of the gods. Back then from time to time I would talk about my relatives AKA The Neil Diamond Fan Club.(TNFDC) They’re the ones having this shindig which will center on finding more or less where our grandparents’ home used to be in one of the not-so-radioactive portions of unincorporated Rio Blanco County.

Of course this has lead people to ask, “Are you going?”

Well…

For those of you just tuning in it goes like this – I am the product of two second marriages. As such my time line is seriously out of synch with the balance of my generation. Some of TNDFC have some memory of seeing me in the 1970s whereas the majority see me as … how to put this?

Have you ever been on the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland and had some one nudge you to ask, “Is that new or has that always been here?”

It’s like that.

At least TNDF does speak to me which is more than I can say for the other side of my family. They shut me out of their lives entirely after I said one little thing at the reception following my grandfather’s funeral. Before the coffee and cake came out we were all gathered to listen to a second cousin tell some story about The Awfulest Awful Thing That Ever Happened Which Must Be Talked About at Each Family Gathering Because of the Awfulness.

Ready?

The cousin got up on a dining room chair and started in using a loud amateur theatrical voice. Somewhere around 1930 my grandfather lost some property rights in a crooked game of Panguingue that was using a rigged card shoe. (At this point the hankies started to come out.) When it came time to flop or fold, or yell “Fizzbin” the other six players had 4 aces and a jack each and the property rights were gone. (Muffled sobs could be heard.) On and on it went about how this one tragic incident kept us from being invited to all the good ponzi schemes and if it hadn’t been for that game we could have been off and running stiffing one country club after another for the entry fees. Instead, and this is where the weeping got shot into high gear, we are left to our lowly station – a bunch of hicks without two nickels to rub together.

At this point – callow youth that I was – I got up in front of the room, thanked everybody for coming to the funeral and said, well that was 50 years ago and there’s not much we can do about it now. Back then did anybody think to call the sheriff or go find a lawyer?

Moments later I was offered neither cake nor coffee. Instead I was offered the use of the back door for my immediate exit. On the way to the car I was told that I should be ashamed of myself for asking questions about what makes a family a family.

Oh well.

At least I’m faring better with TNDFC and one relative in the old country. Thanks to the missionary efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and its interest in genealogy I have been receiving email in broken English from Ainii Uppa, (No, really.) who is a member of a stake house not far from where my great-grandfather grew up. Per her – we’re related as we share a common ancestor named Olaf. She sent a copy of her big genealogy chart and right there at the top it says, “OLAF (b.? d.? 1420)

That’s it?

You got to talking and you forgot to ask? Or was Olaf some sort of 15th Century mega-celebrity who went by one name, you know, like Prince or Cher?

You know –

Right now we’re probably going to go, but we’re looking for Alaska Wolf Joe’s buy-in. We think he’s key to the whole shindig. First, he’d get to meet more family than he’s ever seen before. Next he’d get to collect more stories about our most colorful relative of all time, Uncle Jussi.

For those of you just tuning in – Uncle Yuse was the baby of the family and part of the liberation of Europe during WW2. Specifically he liberated anything that wasn’t nailed down or too heavy to carry. Years later he worked out his midlife crisis by striking a deal with either his second or third wife (no one is sure where she fits in his timeline) to vanish and then have her get him declared legally dead so she could collect his VA benefits. A few months after the ink was dry on the legally-dead papers Uncle Yuse rose from the grave only wandered about our local Grayhound station to find a payphone to call my father and speak in, I guess, what would have been Uncle Yuse’s newly acquired other-wordly voice.

Those of you who knew my father know that he was no stranger to dropping an angry son-of-a-bitch now and then. But the second he was off the phone with Uncle Yuse Daddy-o was using his angry son-of-a-bitch like it was his mantra.

Where were we?

I told AWJ the others could put a finer point on why Uncle Yuse couldn’t stay married and what happened when he broke it off with those women, although I suspect there was probably a custody fight over who’d get the bar tab.

That aside – some of you who have been subjected to one of the various blogs I’ve put up since 2000 might remember that the politics of TNDFC differs from how Mom ’n me see the world much less AWJ. I’m all for outsourcing any political discussions to him. He can introduce them to such terms as late-stage capitalism and anarcho-primitivism.

How will they react?

Who knows?

But hell, if you can get thrown out of your own grandfather’s funeral reception then it’s just a short hop, skip, and jump to getting thrown out of your family reunion, right?

If you’ll excuse me I gotta start building up a tolerance for this stuff.

Father Knows Best

“Texans invent their own metaphors and similes, often of a scatological nature, which is kind of fun. As a group, they tell good stories well. The reason they’re good at stories is because this is what anthropologists call an oral culture. That means people here don’t read or write much. Neither would you if all you had to read was the Dallas Morning News.” Molly Ivins

“The Clinton campaign has struggled to win support among young voters of every description, including traditional Democratic Party voters: women, African-Americans, people of Latinamerican or Hispanic origin, etc. … The AOL Email login-screen ad bought by her campaign is either an act of monumental cluelessness about how to reach those young voters, or (more likely), it’s an indication that the campaign feels the need to double-down on the older voters who constitute the bulk of Hillary Clinton supporters.” Cory Doctrow

“Advice, as it always gives a temporary appearance of superiority, can never be very grateful, even when it is most necessary or most judicious. But for the same reason everyone is eager to instruct his neighbors. To be wise or to be virtuous is to buy dignity and importance at a high price; but when nothing is necessary to elevation but detection of the follies or faults of others, no man is so insensible to the voice of fame as to linger on the ground.” Dr. Johnson

Going around the dial last weekend I came upon an episode of the old George Reeves Superman show. It opened with the local crime boss busily occupying himself with a yo-yo. The phone rings and he hands the yo-yo to an underling and says, “Keep that going for me, will ya?”

That when I realized I needed to pick the loose bits and pieces from last week’s post.

Originally the second part of last week’s missive was to make the point that those born on the front end of the Baby Boom have no idea that those of us born on the back half have no interest in listening to their tales of protest.

Why?

When I started high school the Paris Accord was signed and Saigon fell just as we were being fitted for caps and gowns. Between those two points – and certainly thereafter – we had nothing to protest. There was no war, no draft, and cultural mores had been loosened sufficiently that whatever we did could not be seen as rebellion. I used to joke that the only protest Boomers like Mom ’n me knew about was Disco Demolition Night.

To clarify – the owner of the team’s last name rhymes with “wreck.”

But you knew that.

The closest I ever came to real protest involved our ongoing efforts in what The POTUS would call “dishonstism.” As some of you know, now and then I’m called upon to be a photodishonestist. Several years ago it came down to me to take pictures of the Occupy’s port protest. Phase one was to follow the local Peace Grannies who were marching as a group that day to stand in front of a stub of the Port of Seattle which had been designated as Ground Zero by the local Occupy organizers. About half the grannies had shown up by the time I got there. Arriving hot on my heels were the anarchist kids from Black Diamond, WA/ Eugene, OR,/Fort Bragg, CA. (circle all that apply) They immediately started handing out pints of milk, instructions on how to use the milk to get the pepper spray out of your eyes, and skull-face bandanas intended to hide faces from police and media cameras. One produced a Sharpie marker and took the arm of one of the grannies, the kid then shouted, “I’M WRITING THE PHONE NUMBER FOR THE BAIL BONDSMAN ON YOUR LEFT ARM AND THE PHONE NUMBER OF OUR LAWYER ON OUT RIGHT ARM!

One took my arm and I said simply, “Media.”

She lowered my arm and replied, “FUCK YOU!”

Then she spit at me.

I then asked her if anyone thought the police would go ballistic on a group of 80 year-old women.

“FUCK YOU, YOU COMPLICIT PIG!”

And that’s where I came in on this movie.

By now the Grannies, Viola, Dottie, Margaret, and Ingrid were huddled up refusing to get anything written on their arms. Out of the corner of my eye I saw more anarchists on bicycles shooting by so I took that as my cue to wander up the street. As I got to the police line you could see the teenager march that was headed for the other side of the port entrance. Kids from high schools al over Seattle marched from downtown to be part of the rally. Looking at the front of the crowd I said to myself, “Gee, there’s a mess of these kids who dress just like my kid.” Pulling out the long telephoto lens it became clear that there was one kid who dressed like my kid because he was my kid.

There front and center was Alaska Wolf Joe.

I walked up to the police captain in charge of the line and said I just needed through for a picture or two. Two officers opened up to let me through. Quickly I took both pictures and my child and got to the other side of the line. I told AWJ there was going to be trouble and we were going upwind – now- to get get away from the pepper spray and tear gas the police brought not to mention awful smelling smoke bombs the anarchists brought to create a cover for their rock throwing.

Fatherly advice comes upon you at the most awkward of times.

A steady breeze out of the south meant the bus shelter to the west of all this was the best place to be. Thanks to the miracle knows as the 150-600mm lens I got what I needed while AWJ got to watch it all unfold.

So what became of all that? What’s going on now since most of those protester/anarchists are creeping every closer to the age of 40?

Since Alaska Wolf Joe subscribes to all the FB groups for card-carriers, dupes, pinkos, fellow travelers, and useful idiots I asked him what the average protester looks like today. He says the kids these days are all about th’ Mao.

He writes:

Here’s all I can say about what I know about Trotskyites: you probably smell like patchouli, have “white person dreads”, and are handing out a newspaper at a rally which no one will read. This is the stereotype as I have garnered it from mediocre young radicals, who are no doubt soured Alinski-ites hell bent on destroying the Christian fabric of this nation with their cold hands covered in the residuum of sin.

Also, with an emphasis on recent thoughts regarding intersectionality and decolonization (which are not exclusively Marxist, more re: bell hooks and Frantz Fanon, among no doubt countless others, though no one is really cited), the dirty word “imperialism” creeps in. Any Western narrative against movements esp. in East Asia or the third world is construed as an imperialist narrative, so most people revise Mao to be a sanitary theoretician fighting the imperialist West as opposed to an absurd dictator trying to destroy culture for his own means. I’d say this stems largely from a focus currently towards PoC or WoC led movements, where to look for figures who went for radically Marxist approaches and had success on a widespread culture means looking generally outside of the West. Also the kids really love materialism now because it isn’t that stuffy thing that ivory tower elitist liberals shove down your throat with the list of Great Books.

Everybody on the same page now?

Good.

As far a future protests go I’ll probably only go those that require me to throw a saddle on ol’ Nikon and ride off.

Moving along –

Good news came along this week.

Somebody wants Mom ’n me to run out a PPT on the current state of the media!

OK it’s for a senior center enrichment group, but it’s the first time anybody wanted to hear what we have to say in a long, long time. Never mind that the only time these folks experienced fake news it was Orson Welles going on and on about martians in New Jersey.

To recap – for several years the Internet’s young hip good looking set always wanted to meet with us. The scuttlebutt said Mom was a regular digital spitfire while I was the Bloggitysphere’s answer to that daring 19th Century man-of-action, Russian Count Vladimir Klappon-Klappov. Then we’d catch up with them and they’d see we were these perpetually rumpled people with wrinkles and gray hair who were about as sexy as the average IKEA showroom. Once that shock wore off they backed away from us, but not before treating us like some old gray muzzled mutt who does little more than sleep and fart all day. They’d smile and they always said the same thing, “Gee Pops, you’re not a puppy anymore are you? Nozzums not, Nozzums not! Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy?

Then they’d scratch me behind the ears.

God, how I always hated that.

Oh – before I go and in case you were wondering – The Peace Grannies lived to see another day. In fact, a few years later they managed to shut down an entire Port meeting using what Joe Bob Briggs would call sit-in/hootenanny-fu using little more than the Pete Seeger songbook.

As always we end with music. What follows is what Alaska Wolf Joe said has “All the artistic panache of someone cosplaying as Karl Marx at an anime convention.” while Mom ’n me say it more as a death-by-a-thousand-cuts moment as we had to sit through a three-minute AARP ad before it would roll.

Let me sit heavy on thy soul to-morrow! I, that was wash'd to death with fulsome wine!

“The most obvious, important realities are often the ones that are hardest to see and talk about. Stated as an English sentence, of course, this is just a banal platitude, but the fact is that in the day to day trenches of adult existence, banal platitudes can have a life or death importance.” – David Foster Wallace

“Ideology is conceived as a pure illusion, a pure dream, i.e. as nothingness. All its reality is external to it. Ideology is thus thought as an imaginary construction whose status is exactly like the theoretical status of the dream among writers before Freud. For these writers, the dream was the purely imaginary, i.e. null, result of ‘day’s residues’, presented in an arbitrary arrangement and order, sometimes even ‘inverted’, in other words, in ‘disorder’. For them, the dream was the imaginary, it was empty, null and arbitrarily ‘stuck together’ (bricolé), once the eyes had closed, from the residues of the only full and positive reality, the reality of the day.” Althusser

“‘Radical nostalgia’ describes a politics that reaches, creatively, into the past, drawing up stories, characters, events, and philosophies to retell and reinvent, in order to bolster and animate current politics, both as a foundation to build upon and as a goal to reach towards.” Molly Sauter from Disruption as Radical Nostalgia

“But I, that am not shaped for sportive tricks,Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;I, that am rudely stamp’d, and want love’s majesty,To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;I, that am curtail’d of this fair proportion,Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,Deformed, unfinish’d, sent before my time Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,And that so lamely and unfashionable That dogs bark at me as I halt by them; Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace, Have no delight to pass away the time, Unless to spy my shadow in the sun And descant on mine own deformity: And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover, To entertain these fair well-spoken days, I am determined to prove a villain And hate the idle pleasures of these days. Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, By drunken prophecies, libels and dreams…” Richard III

“Let us take a patriot, where we can meet him; and, that we may not flatter ourselves by false appearances, distinguish those marks which are certain, from those which may deceive; for a man may have the external appearance of a patriot, without the constituent qualities; as false coins have often lustre, though they want weight. … Patriotism is not necessarily included in rebellion. A man may hate his king, yet not love his country.” Dr. Johnson

Right back at ya K-Man!

We all have those things in life that are small annoyances. My father’s was being born the same day as Richard Nixon while my family collectively got marginally irritated at the fact that no one could spell our last name correctly. Some of that came back at me last week.

At a civic function for some of the older folks in the neighborhood, the president of the group got up and said the secretary couldn’t make it as she had come down the the flu that’s been going around. He then asked, “Anybody out there that can take notes? It’d be good if you had one of those computers you can carry around – the ones that fold up, you seen those?”

Looking up at the moment I saw that everyone was staring at me. So I acquiesced and dug the foldable, portable computing device out of my courier bag.

That’s when I found Karl standing behind me.

Karl had to make a few remarks at the start, but I got the impression that as he spoke he was watching me type. He stayed right behind me for the entire meeting, sometimes looking over my left should and sometimes looking over my right. At the end he leaned over, stuck his face right in the screen and said, “Show me where you talked about me!”

I scrolled up and pointed.

“You spelled my name with a ‘k.’

Yes.

“Where’d you get that idea?”

I pointed to the name badge sticker he was wearing and said that if he personally filled it out then it is reasonable to assume that most people know how to spell their own name.

He smiled broadly and said, “I don’t care that they say about you, you’re alright!”

Some of you will recognize that as a line from the movie Repo Man while others will realize it is a form of high praise when coming from people who are a bit longer in the tooth than the average reader of this page.

Guess all those years of being automatically thought of a Carl with a ‘c’ had worn on him and it was OK that some punk-ass kid (pushing 60) got it right.

Along those lines –

IT’S ONLY 12 LETTERS LONG HOW HARD CAN IT BE TO SPELL?

Alaska Wolf Joe tells me Milo Yiannopoulos, or Milo Minderbinder, as AWJ likes to call him, is old news. Right now AWJ is probably the only college-age kid in American who thinks that.

Let’s look at the record:

Alma mater – true to form – tried to kumbaya Milo into submission while the Berkeley kids went with the tired-and-true method of storming the barricades.

Then there were the kids at UW…

What can I say?

Maybe it’s the long dark nights and the miserable wet days that keep you inside that gives you too much time to think and far too little to do. Or maybe we live too close to the magnetic north and it acts on your brain when you sleep. In either case the UW kids pulled out all the stops when Milo came to town. They threw paint, they threw bricks, they started fires, they forced the campus cops to call in the SPD riot squad for back-up, and by the end of the night somebody got shot.

Like that was the end of it?

Oh, hell no!

The shooter had a dubious swastika-themed tattoo and while the UW campus newspaper ran a story about who he might be, the administration had the story pulled within a couple of hours of publication. Another Seattle web site ran the story as, but pulled it at about the same time the UW’s story disappeared.(A version of the article has resurfaced here.) Another citywide website filed a public disclosure request about the whole mess and were told “No can do.” as this is still an ongoing investigation.

In this case “ongoing” means, “We’re waiting for Dale Cooper to drive down.”

In case you’re wondering what all the fuss is about – Milo is a sort of alt-right-ish kinda guy who furthered the conservative cause during the campaign by having two alleged twinks give him a bath in pig’s blood which can be construed as freedom of expression

Freedom of speech is one thing, but ain’t context a bitch?

“Suck on this, hippie.” Travis Bickle

Quiz time:

You have 30 minutes. Pick one of these questions, be specific and use examples.

1. Is Steve Bannon single handedly creating the Baby Boomers’ political legacy?

2. Should we think of Milo as the new Abbie Hoffman?

For those of you who have stopped screaming and/or put your pencils down here is the here’s the quiz key:

1. Mr. Bannon was born in 1953 putting him right in the middle of the Boom. In the past two weeks he’s done more to further his cause than any anti-war protest held in the past 50 years. Add that to the fact that history, like context, can be a real bitch there’s no guarantee that the Vietnam era protests will not some day be taught as a footnote, the same way the post-Civil War currency riots are treated as an aside in the introduction to Gresham’s Law.

2. Eons ago I was working on a college degree in what Mr. Trump would call “dishonestism.” Back then the 1960s where still fresh in the minds of many so we were taught to carefully scrutinize the people who were at the forefront of any protest to see if they were real activists or those attention whores who could only be described as a professional pains-in-the-ass.* On that scale Milo comes closer to being a pain despite the fact that his schtick isn’t anything new. If anything, he’s Marilyn Manson to Ann Coulter’s Alice Cooper. There’s a certain warmed-over aspect to Milo’s agitprop, pig’s blood aside, that traces back to Annie, but she really can’t run the college circuit any more.

Kids these days don’t want to hear her Dead Head stories much less anything about her love of The Dave Matthews Band, the strongest sleep aid you can get without a prescription. No, her time is now better spent being a desk at Fox News where she can get the olds’ bowels moving again while Milo becomes a silver glyph for the young to interpret.

By now some of you are asking, “So what jumpstarted your Buick this time?”

Voici!

Jesuits practice a mild form of self flagellation to atone for their sins and improve their concentration.

Me?

I read Medium.

Same thing.

Unlike Molly Sauter, quoted above, I am not so sanguine about the olds’ take on what passes for revolution these days. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be putting out some thoughts on the corrosive nature of nostalgia and the current state of politics.

Why not now?

Because at this point we’re within inches of the border of The Romulan Neutral Zone when it comes to tl;dr and there’s no real reason to keep you.

But I will leave you with this – on the way out of the community center where I managed to spell Karl’s name correctly, I ran into one of my fellow travelers in the dishonestism profession. He was studying a flyer posted on the big cork board by the front door. He pointed to the lunch menu for a senior center far south of the neighborhood and said, “I guess that’s OK, but a steady diet of that would plug you up!”

Piffle.

Those people have cable. They can go home, fire up Fox News, and the second Ann Coulter comes on they’ll be right as rain.

Until next time – sing along – you know the words.

* I have plenty examples of both. I’d mention them, but I’ve already done enough damage to your blood pressure.

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 …

"Just a word to the wise, leave your money at home"

“Do you remember a few years ago when people described absolutely everything as “Meh?” Everywhere you’d look on the Internet, there it was – “Meh!” A big bored shrug. We moaned that everything was sort of mediocre and bland. Not anymore. Now everything’s shit or brilliant and there’s no in-between and everyone is furious. Stick your head in the Internet now and and it’s like a fucking screaming convention. Black ants vs. red ants. It’s as if everyone’s been radicalized , and there fore in Brexit Britain, your either a knuckle dragging racist or a metropolitan elitist. Those are the only two roles available. Sorry! But we know these are caricatures, out here (IRL) most of us are bland and meh and reasonable.” – Charlton Brooker

The general fantasy of media criticism, especially public media criticism, is that the media has unlimited money available to it. In reality it has negative money available to it. Great accuracy is generally a luxury afforded to ‘quality’ publications and the product of much labor. How to share this with people so their fantasies of “fact checking” remain under control; i.e. it’s on us, collectively, caveat precursor. The media can at best dig its hole more slowly, not climb out. There are no ladders. – Paul Ford

“Enter the Unabomber and a new line is being drawn. This time the bohemian schiz-fluxers, Green yuppies, hobbyist anarcho-journalists, condescending organizers of the poor, hip nihilo-aesthetes and all the other “anarchists” who thought their pretentious pastimes would go on unchallenged indefinitely — well, it’s time to pick which side you’re on. It may be that here also is a Rubicon from which there will be no turning back.” John Zerzan

“As Mailer had come to recognize over the years, the modest everyday fellow of his daily round was servant to a wild man in himself.… He would have been admirable, except that he was an absolute egomaniac, a Beast—no recognition existed of the existence of anything beyond the range of his reach.” — Norman Mailer on Norman Mailer

“I wonder what pleasure men can take in making beasts of themselves.I wonder, Madam, that you have not penetration to see the strong inducement to this excess; for he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Dr. Johnson in response to his landlady

First, take a minute to watch this review of the year just past and then we’ll begin.

Clears your sinuses too!

The orgone box in the basement has been sitting largely unused for the past several years. Some of you who were subjected to one of the earlier incarnations of this page remember how I spent an afternoon gathering myself in the box prior to posting something. This week – as I had nothing better to do – I decided to see if the box was still in good working order. In fact, the experience went so well that I composed this very post in my mind as I sat in the accumulator!

Here come the conclusions gathered while sitting in the box.

Two things:

1. Science tells us that the average human body is mostly water and a few trace elements. While this is generally true for most people it does not apply to the average Scandinavian-American males whose bodies are composed mostly of water with the balance being opinions. Setting aside the theological problems for a moment, the real reason reincarnation gets no traction among Lutheran men is that they have no interest in coming back as a bug or a lemur. They want to come back – as is – ‘cuase they ain’t done talkin’ yet!

As such it is the sole reason for this page to exist.

2. If you’re tired of everyone on social media having the emotional range and studied thought of spooked cattle then you’ve come to something almost but not quite like the right place. Not that we’re going to anything about the hysterics in your life, but you’ve arrived 2016 year-end desk cleaning post, which is my feeble attempt at grasping that concept the poo-ass types call, “Sense Making.”

Why?

One of my great fears is that I’m slowly becoming one of those old guys who constantly repeats himself. But it also dawned on my that if I call this post a year-ender, one of those 2016 wrap-up sort of things, then I am free to repeat myself without any risk of embarrassment befitting my advanced age.

Lies, damned lies, and bots

Fake news and disinformation comes in many forms. This week I learned the meaning of the term, “honeypot bot” via “The Saga of @christianmom18.” The Mile High Swingin’ Daddyo Fred sends this list of fictitious academic sites.

So why mention this?

There are lies in your feeds. Makes no difference, left or right – you don’t notice them because you’ve seen enough of your feeds to pass judgement and move on. Put another way – it doesn’t make any difference which end you’re swimming in – somebody’s wee-wee’d in the pool and made you think it’s Chanel No. 5.

Needless to say this causes the little voice in your head to shout, “WHO WOULD DO SUCH A THING?!?!!??”

In the case of @christianmom18 there are those who think some people in this world need a good nose tweaking. There’s also sociopaths, narcissists, and the people who are in it for the money.

Once you’re done hyperventilating

Oh lordy! I said “money” and not in a good way. Libs don’t like when that happens because they think the very idea of people who readily handle money is like watching a dyspeptic ox relieve himself in slow motion. The Right meanwhile likes the idea that the markets will provide in a Newtonian clockwork fashion, unless it provides something they don’t like such as porn, 4LOCO, or fake news intended to tweak their collective nose.

That’s why you should watch this video until you stop feeling dizzy. Charlton Brooker is a sly man. If you spend the next hour watching this you’ll see that he slags all sides equally. If you don’t see that then you’re still upset that I mentioned money and you should lie down before reading on.


“Boy, what a sound! How I love the sound of clinking money! That beautiful sound of cold hard cash!”

Here the part where I get to repeat myself without much impunity.

Recently The Proprietor AKA Berlin Wally wondered aloud (on another social media platform) as to whether or not a divided nation was in someone’s best interest. Put another way – does someone out there benefit from making sure that we are only known by our differences instead of our commonalities?

What brought this up was a small mention that every year Mom ’n me buy $150 worth of tickets for the Kiwanis Holiday Pancake Breakfast which raises money for college scholarships for Key Club members at our three high schools. Not that we sit down and eat as we give the tickets back and tell the Kiwanis to go resell them. Nevertheless we do stop by for coffee to see how things are going. Each year we get to meet the usual suspects who attend – the Legion guys who put on our big 4th of July parade, the half dozen Marines who do their Toys for Tots thing at the breakfast, various functionaries of the VFW, Santa, (who owns the local furnace and water heater repair company) and most of the local Masons as the breakfast is held in their basement’s multi-purpose room. Later we usually see all the same folks along with the Chamber of Commerce high sheriffs, a Girl Scout choir doing your caroling favorites backed by one of our high schools’ band, and several ministers from the neighborhood at the Christmas tree lighting that the local merchants put on. This year the jeweler who’s been in business for 45 years brought his two toddler grandkids up on on the stage and they all threw the switch to light the tree.

And how does this happen in a city where Mr. Trump only got 8% of the vote?

Simple – there’s big money in you not knowing things are not as doctrinaire as they seem.

To expand on something I said last summer – the political viewpoints of the left and the right have been commodified. Working forward from that you could say that once a viewpoint has become commodified it becomes a form of entertainment.

What probably divides us is anger and frustration borne out of glaring differences.

What we have in common is boring.

And that makes for bad tv.

Gut jiggling however is great tv. And if I may repeat myself – O’Relley and Maddow are Coke and Pepsi. It’s all which form of gut jiggling your prefer. There’s no real difference just so long as you have a nice bout of reflux when you’re done watching.

Resolutions any one?

Where we do differ is dinner table conversation. Over Christmas dinner we played Six Degrees of the Unabomber and I won with three degrees left over! Alaska Wolf Joe asked what that UB believed as he’s heard him mentioned in something from John Zerzan that one of his pals read aloud at a party. (Millennials!) I said that when his papers were found the conservatives with thrilled at first as the UB tore the libs a new one. Their enthusiasm wore off quickly as they read on and found themselves at the center of a real butt kicking as well.

I only mention this as my new year’s resolution, aside from spending more time in the orgone box, is to swim back and forth going to both ends of the pool to figuring out who should have thought of that before they left the house and pointing it out in a sort of Ted Kaczynski way. Face facts – you can’t do it. You’re going to be busy enough spending each day on Facebook watching no end of people make the hard transition from losing their shit over a foreign-born president to losing their shit over having a president who might be a foreign agent.

Good luck with that.

While we’re all waiting for that to start let’s take a moment and get this one stuck in our heads.