Then you flew your Lear Jet to Novia Scotia to see the total eclipse of the large adult sons

“The more total society becomes, the greater the reification of the mind and the more paradoxical its effort to escape reification on its own. Even the most extreme consciousness of doom threatens to degenerate into idle chatter. Cultural criticism finds itself faced with the final stage of the dialectic of culture and barbarism. To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. And this corrodes even the knowledge of why it has become impossible to write poetry today. Absolute reification, which presupposed intellectual progress as one of its elements, is now preparing to absorb the mind entirely. Critical intelligence cannot be equal to this challenge as long as it confines itself to self-satisfied contemplation. (Prisms, 34) Theodore Adorno c. 1955

Perennial suffering has as much right to expression as a tortured man has to scream; hence it may have been wrong to say that after Auschwitz you could no longer write poems. But it is not wrong to raise the less cultural question whether after Auschwitz you can go on living–especially whether one who escaped by accident, one who by rights should have been killed, may go on living. His mere survival calls for the coldness, the basic principle of bourgeois subjectivity, without which there could have been no Auschwitz; this is the drastic guilt of him who was spared. By way of atonement he will be plagued by dreams such as that he is no longer living at all, that he was sent to the ovens in 1944 and his whole existence since has been imaginary, an emanation of the insane wish of a man killed twenty years earlier. (Negative Dialectics, 362-363) Theodore Adorno 1966

“Less well known is the paradox of tolerance: Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. … We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.” Karl Popper

“Global capitalism is brutal and heartless. In other news I got a great app for my phone that allows me not to feel!!!” Eddie Pepitone

“Drama is beneath me considering our age.” Chuck D on getting sued last week by Flav

“If I wanted your opinion I’d beat it out of you.” Elvira Mistress of the Dark

“In a time of war the nation is always of one mind, eager to hear something good of themselves and ill of the enemy. At this time the task of the news-writer is easy; they have nothing to do but to tell that a battle is expected, and afterwards that a battle has been fought, in which we and our friends, whether conquering or conquered, did all, and our enemies did nothing.” Dr. Johnson

Remember Harmabe’s grieving mother, Covfefe?

This was the week where someone asked when I got past my existential crisis. The quick answer is, “Never.” In fact I’ve come to think of it as my companion animal.

Why?

Some of us have a deep inexplicable need to put our thoughts down in writing now and then and lately it’s been getting harder and harder to focus on those thoughts. The news cycle and its tawdry lover, Outrage have been coming at us so fast and so furiously that I just can’t get a grip on anything. Facts, factoids, news, both real and imagined fly over the transom like that shower of arrows in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Not long ago things were so much simpler. Every morning you’d open your inbox and find a note from Barbara Streisand telling what to think and when to think it. Then once or twice a month FedEx would bring a stack of papers which were the rough equivalent of that the Brits call a white paper. A few would be from Amal Clooney, but the bulk were written by Sean Penn.

Now?

Not to conflate this with Adorno’s statements, (above) but you have to wonder what you’re supposed to blog when you can’t focus?

Therefore – here comes a few items that need to move off the desk before they hit their expiration dates.

I can’t unsee what you did there!

Earlier in the week this article popped up which introduced me to the right-leaning rapper, Baked Alaska.

No, really.

Casting about for further info on Mr. Alaska I learned a term I had not heard before, The Dirtbag Left. Two guys who call their podcast The Chapo Trap House were busily trashing Mr. Alaska while performing an audio skit which portrayed Seb Gorka as little more than a loud, talkative, stock character straight out of a Republic Serial.

So what is The Dirt Bag Left?

Per Eve Peyser

“The dirtbag left”: A term coined by Amber A’Lee Frost of Chapo Trap House, a popular politics podcast that was once described by the Guardian as “leftwing Breitbart,” “the dirtbag left” describes a political movement that champions socialist ideology with an aggressive disinterest in pandering to prominent liberals (any Hillary Clinton advocate, for example). Dirtbag leftists disdain the average liberal’s commitment to pomp and circumstance, to upholding civilized discourse. Moreover, the dirtbag left believes vulgarity can be a powerful political tool. (In an essay on the necessity of political vulgarity for Current Affairs, Frost writes that in the Trump era, “If we do not embrace the profane now and again, we will find ourselves handicapped by our own civility.”)

Or this from Jeet Heer

Chapo is the flagship show of the Dirtbag Left, a phrase coined by co-host Amber A’Lee Frost to describe a take-no-prisoners style of American socialism that’s ascendent in the age of Trump. While examples of the Dirtbag Left can also be found in publications like The Baffler, Current Affairs, and podcasts like The War Nerd and Street Fight Radio, Chapo remains the purest example of the species. “It’s a movement that uses many of the tactics of the online alt-right—humour, memes, Twitter trolling and open animosity—while remaining committed to progressive leftist ideology,” John Semley wrote earlier this month in Maclean’s. “A given Chapo episode sees the hosts yukking it up at the expense of hacky mainstream media op-eds (New York Times columnist Ross Douthat is a favourite target of the gang’s derision), or critiquing the limp, liberal identity politics of the recent, and much-lauded, Wonder Woman movie.”The comparison Semley draws with the alt-right is apt. On substance, Chapo upholds the democratic-socialist politics of Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn, but in style it is much closer to the vituperative, insulting, shock-jock tactics used not just by Twitter users with Pepe the Frog avatars, but Trump himself. The response of mainstream liberals to these tactics on the right has been to double down on the importance of civility. “When they go low, we go high,” as Michelle Obama famously said. But the Dirtbag Left has no use for civility, and instead wants to counter the alt-right’s mudslinging in kind. Their slogan could be, “When they go low, we go into the gutter.”

A better grasp of the Dirtbaggers’ inconoclatic ways are also found in this article which Alaska Wolf Joe called the best think piece he’s read all summer.

It starts off with –

SOMETHING HAS GONE BADLY WRONG with our atheists. All these self-styled intellectual titans, scientists, and philosophers have fallen horribly ill. Evolutionist faith-flayer Richard Dawkins is a wheeling lunatic, dizzy in his private world of old-fashioned whimsy and bitter neofascism. Superstar astrophysicist and pop-science impresario Neil deGrasse Tyson is catatonic, mumbling in a packed cinema that the lasers wouldn’t make any sound in space, that a spider that big would collapse under its own weight, that everything you see is just images on a screen and none of it is real. Islam-baiting philosopher Sam Harris is paranoid, his flailing hands gesticulating murderously at the spectral Saracen hordes. Free-thinking biologist PZ Myers is psychotic, screeching death from a gently listing hot air balloon. And the late Christopher Hitchens, blinded by his fug of rhetoric, fell headlong into the Euphrates.

Critics have pointed out this clutch of appalling polemic and intellectual failings on a case-by-case basis, as if they all sprang from a randomized array of personal idiosyncrasies. But while one eccentric atheist might be explicable, for all of the world’s self-appointed smartest people to be so utterly deranged suggests some kind of pattern. We need, urgently, a complete theory of what it is about atheism that drives its most prominent high priests mad.

Shorter answer – the Dirtbaggers are the Anti-Pelosi.

And I get that. We have this running joke in the family that’s based on people we met back in the wayyyy early 90s at the Utne Reader Salons. Every so often someone would bring a friend who could only be described as a Poo-Ass Progressive who felt obliged to go way off topic and present their liberal bona fides which always started with, “You know, there’s some very good rap music and I was watching Cossi fan Tutte the other night on PBS…”

And on and on without every coming back to the topic at hand.

It’s what the kids call, ‘virtue signaling’.

You know, like when you tell pollsters you think Kid Rock would make a good senator.

Same thing.

Where were we?

All of this seems to be a subset of the larger issue of whether or not it’s OK to punch a Nazi. There are those, like the Dirtbaggers, who are all for the idea. Then there are the Poo-Ass Progressive who fear that if you punch a Nazi they win and history will repeat itself. We’ll be faced with our own version of Germany in the 30s where the Nazis will get the upper hand after force is used against them.

Can it happen here?

It is plausible, but is it possible?

I’ve come to believe that there would be a collective sigh of relief if history would repeat itself. Regardless of the outcome people could finally let their collective hair down for a minute and bask in something that was coming back around. Which is to say what I started out with here – lately things have come at us at such a furious pace that made – just maybe – for a few days or even a whole week it would be nice to be able to get a grip on what’s going on.

But in a way that would be more like taking a couple of Tylenol when you have the flu.

You’d feel better for a little while but, but you’d still have the flu.

While you’re thinking about that, here’s a quick how-to guide.

You try so hard but you don’t understand just what you will say when you get home because something is happening here but you don’t know what it is,do you, Mr. Jones?

Someone asked if Alaska Wolf Joe had required summer reading.

Yes.

He assigned us The Politics of Aesthetics by Jacques Ranciere.

If we were going to spend a portion of August driving around Colorado to see how little time we could spend in Unincorporated Rio Blanco County (4 hours awake, 7.5 hours asleep, and .5 hour in misc. activities) then we would need something to talk about.

The book opens with a definition of artistic hierarchies which sorta kinda fits with some ideas I’ve had about the future of the economy. Lately I’ve come to think that we might be at the early stages of transformation into what the next dominant form of economic organization might be. Ranciere begins with defining art by talking about the dominance of modernism, especially modernism’s emphasis on the rules and hierarchies of what constitutes great art. Out of that he sees the old avant guard as a reaction to those rules – a naysaying of a kind or the taking up of an opposite point of view. As such modernism could only be undone if its core was either ignored or replaced. Which is what happened under post modernism. The rules were never challenged. The rules were reduced to text, meaning was no longer the possession of the creator, but became the sole property of the observer.

Much the same can be said of what everybody likes to call ‘late-stage capitalism.’ (LSC)

Sooner or later it will be replaced, but not by socialism or communism. In face, and this is my current thinking, it will be replaced by something we cannot grasp in the same way modernists could not believe their rules of art would become an artifact. Under this definition of LSC neither communism nor socialism are replacements. Like the old avant guard they were merely reactions to the existing order rather than the future. Even the definitions of left and right, liberal and conservative are defined by a single system of economic order. Prior to it one was from France or England and a loyal subject – without further qualification – of his or her respective monarch.

No, there might be something coming and it could be evolving at this minute, but we can’t see it. At a bare minimum someone might get a glimpse, but like the physicists of the 19th Century – it’s all speculation until someone develops the math – the correct set of proofs – to find out if it’s truly real.

Until somebody comes up with the math at least we can all consider the alternatives to how to conduct ourselves in polite society.

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.

Five Totally Bolton Buckets of Content

“The ‘mood of the country’ in 1972, was so overwhelmingly vengeful, greedy, bigoted, and blindly reactionary that no presidential candidate who even faintly reminded ‘typical voters’ of the fear and anxiety they’d felt during the constant ‘social upheavals’ of the 1960s had any chance of beating Nixon last year… After a decade of left-bent chaos, the Silent Majority was so deep in a behavioral sink that their only feeling for politics was a powerful sense of revulsion. All they wanted in the White House was a man who would leave them along and do anything necessary to bring calmness back into their lives – even if it meant turning the whole state Nevada into a concentration camp for hippies, blacks, dope fiends, do-gooders, and anyone who might threaten the status quo.” Hunter S. Thompson from Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972

“I suspect that there should have been more of a discussion in the campaign of the everyday frustrations and problems of working people, conditions under which they work, maybe more of an effort to identify with them.” George McGovern, December 1972

“Thank you for subscribing to this, the newsletter sent to all Millennials in the world. Everyone here at the Millennial High Council wanted to recap a few of the decisions made at our last shadowy cabal meeting, which, as you know, dictates the behavior of every Millennial everywhere. As you remember, we decided last year that Millennials will no longer be using bars of soap, spearmint toothpaste, travel agents, or Velcro.Furthermore, later this year Millennials will be killing open floor plans, cranberry juice, the Sunday wedding, and attendance at water parks.In more positive news, Millennials should be preparing for the return of landline telephones, pinball, ferret ownership, Savage Garden, the handjob, and drive-in movie theaters. Also, please be aware of the following: Sexting is no longer cool. Au Bon Pain is fine but Pret A Manger is NOT. We’re all getting into Ska music again. The new acceptable slang term for “good” is “Michael Bolton” (Example sentence: ‘That new Gatorade cleanse endorsed by Danny Glover is totally Bolton!’). The 🎷 emoji can represent a penis now. The hot new winter haircut for men is the bowl cut. The hot new winter haircut for women is shaving your head like Demi Moore in G.I. Jane. Soylent? No.” The Millenial High Council

“As Audience’s third co-founder, Oliver Luckett, explained it to me, a major part of the job, at that point in time, was simply working with the celebrity to determine what it was he or she had to say. ‘We had to create the architecture. We had to sit down with someone and say, ‘What are your five buckets of content?,’ ‘ Luckett told me on the phone from the Copenhagen airport a few days after he had attended Lindsay Lohan’s 30th-birthday celebration in Mykonos. ‘ ‘Are you a humanitarian? Are you interested in short films? Do you like movies? Do you like music? What clothes do you like?’ You just kind of had to break [it] apart and say, ‘Here are going to be the story lines this month.’ “ Josh Duboff

“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time. Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day. He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941. He has gone back through that door to find himself in 1963. He has seen his birth and death many times, he says, and pays random visits to all the events in between. … Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part of his life he is going to have to act in next.” Kurt Vonnegut

“Men more frequently require to be reminded than informed.” Dr. Johnson

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My old anthropology teacher used to say that primates picked the lice off each other just to be sociable. That’s why she put forth the idea that as humans became less hairy we adopted small talk (e.g. “Hot enough for ya?”) as sublimated version of mutual grooming. What follows is a great deal of desk clearing which could be thought of as that form of higher primate parasite management known as, “So, how was your summer?”

Nietzsche called, he wants his abyss back.

The Abrahamic religions all set aside one day of the week for common observance and reflection. Muslims have the Friday Call to Prayer, Jews have the Shabbat, while Christians have Sunday morning.

Retired guys have trash day.

About a dozen years ago the guy next door hung up his spurs and since then he’s been an observant Rubbishist. Somewhere near dusk on the day before pick-up he takes his trash can to the curb and begins to adjust it this way and that over and over and over. In order not to disturb him Mrs. Neighbor puts on her velour jogging suit and takes her cigarette for a walk. After an hour she returns usually just in time to see Mr. Neighbor complete his zen-like placement of the can. At that point they usually go out for an early dinner and come home to watch Dancing with the Stars.

How do I know this?

Last year they bought one of those gargantuan tv’s.

If we want to know what’s on all we have to do is look out the kitchen window.

But please be assured that that’s not the end of it. On trash day I, the neighborhood goldbrick per Mr. Neighbor, manage to get the trash out usually within minutes of the arrival of the garbage truck. More often than not Mr. Neighbor is out there keeping watch for the arrival of the trash guys. Normally he uses the time to upbraid me for putting the trash out at the last minute, so it was a bit of surprise when he had a new topic to bring up a couple of weeks ago. He was upset that Alaska Wolf Joe failed to properly conduct himself in sublimated higher primate parasite management. (QED)

With out a ‘Hello’ or a got-a- minute he said “Your kid rode his bike in front of my house!”

And?

“He said ‘Hello’ and kept going!”

… o … k …

“Doesn’t he know he’s supposed to stop and talk? Is there something wrong with him?”

I took a deep breath, looked him in the eye, and said – what do you expect? He goes to one of those effete schools back East where a bunch of activist judges gave all the left-wing professors tenure so they could stuff the poor kid’s head full of libtard mush!”

Mom heard all this and responded with a simple, “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU TELL HIM THAT FOR?”

You have to talk to people in a way that they’ll understand and God knows I have gazed out the kitchen window many, many times only to see Bill O’Reilly gazing back at me.

0gr17btm1n

“We should become the pitiless censors of ourselves.” Alain Badiou

Slaughterhouse Five really isn’t so much a postmodernist novel as it is an astructural work. Vonnegut was only in his late 40s when he wrote it, but what you can see is his own ability to look backwards to see how things shaped up and then extrapolate possible futures. As I get older that’s what I’m beginning to grasp – I’ve now been around long enough to amass a good look at what’s transpired and how that does give me some meager insight as to where things might be going.

Or not.

The reason I bring it up is that sometimes you can find yourself becoming unstuck and my recent moment with unstuckidness pretty much answers the question, “So how was your summer?”

Full of grumpy, angry old people.

Not that they were bent out of shape about the big stuff, the stuff this election is supposed to be all about. No, they were grumpy and riled up over things like a shoddy asphalt patch up the street, increased fares for buses that they do not ride, and bicycle lanes that they do not use. As far as they’re concerned nothin’s any damn good like it used to be and nobody cares. They go on long and loud only to finish each vocal javelin with a hearty, “WASN’T LIKE THAT BACK IN MY DAY!”

And that’s why I dropped out of a couple of civic do-gooder things I was marginally attached to just before Labor Day. In July at meetings for both I was asked for an opinion and – in a moment of intense realization – I discovered that I was speaking in tongues – specifically ancient Cranky Old Fart. The only thing that my “opinions” lacked was a quick and final, “WASN’T LIKE THAT IN MY DAY!”

In both cases I drove home deeply embarrassed.

Shortly after Labor Day I met with one of my associate do-gooders and said that no one can achieve much with somebody who thinks that nothin’ and nobody’s any good always in the room. Therefore I was pulling back and going home to think. She took a long pause and then said that it was a remarkably astute and perceptive. At that point I could have said that’s what happens when you become unstuck in time, but I bother people enough about all the old hoary records I have lying about – no point in bogging them down with stories about all those old hoary paperbacks on the shelves at home.

Speaking of all things old and on vinyl –

WARNING: OBLIGATORY POLITICAL PORTION OF THIS BALANCED BREAKFAST STRAIGHT AHEAD

If that realization wasn’t enough, Alaska Wolf Joe was there then someone said I should come to the senior center for lunch.

To recap – I have no interest in going to the senior center because when the senior center begins to cater to people like me it means being stuck next to some guy at bingo who wants to tell you about the time be put bug spray in his bong while the overhead speakers blast Dark Side of the Moon all over the damn place.

I politely declined and somehow our yearly discussion about Burning Man started. Every year I say that being a Burner is on my non-content related bucket list and AWJ states firm opinion that I’d last about two hours at Burning Man before I had to be med-evac’d for acute oldness.

But not before I see this!

I usually fire back that some day The Old will sneak up on him. OK, it might be somebody inviting him to the senior center or maybe it’ll be getting stuck with some guy on a cross-country flight telling him how much fun it was to see Skrillex and Rebecca Black show in Vegas. That shifted the conversation to observations about the election. AWJ believes this is the single most Freudian election anyone at any time – in the whole history of forever – has ever encountered.

Can’t stump the Trump?

One of the GOP nominee’s biggest fan’s insists on calling Trump “Daddy?”

The kid’s kinda got a point even if it’s just higher primate parasite management for the sake of higher primate parasite management.

But enough of that – let’s all hold hands and sing along.

Ziegfled ain't comin'

“We live in a time when the news media and other purveyors of conventional wisdom like to report on the future more than the past. They draw on polls and false analogies to announce what is going to happen next, and their frequent errors — about the unelectability of Barack Obama, say, or the inevitability of the Keystone XL pipeline — don’t seem to impede their habit of prophecy or our willingness to abide them. “We don’t actually know” is their least favorite thing to report. Non-pundits, too, use bad data and worse analysis to pronounce with great certainty on future inevitabilities, present impossibilities, and past failures. The mind-set behind these statements is what I call naïve cynicism. It bleeds the sense of possibility and maybe the sense of responsibility out of people.” – from The Habits of Highly Cynical People by Rebecca Solnit

“Sometime around now – it may have happened five years ago or 50 years ago – but sometime around now, the rules for living successfully on earth shifted, and an opportunity, unseen before, began to reveal itself. This opportunity is a context – a particular space or paradigm, a way of being – which unexpectedly creates the possibility for a person’s life to truly make a difference. In this context, the way each of us answers the question, ‘What is my life really going to be about?’ can literally alter the course of humanity.
The possibility to create the context in which people’s lives really matter is undoubtedly the most profound opportunity available to anyone, ever.” –Werner Erhard

“Whoever is overrun with suspicion, and detects artifice and stratagem in every proposal, must either have learned by experience or observation the wickedness of mankind, and been taught to avoid fraud by having often suffered or seen treachery; or he must derive his judgment from the consciousness of his own disposition, and impute to others the same inclinations which he feels predominant in himself.” Dr. Johnson

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What an odd little week that was.

Did you notice it too?

Here I as all set to go on and on and on about why I think I’m punishing myself by looking at Medium every day. I had this terse little summary claiming Medium is nothing more than people secretly trying out the TED Talks they some day hope to give. The summary took pity on these sad, poor souls who three times a week run out 1500 words under the general premise that they’re goin’ out there a nobody, but they were comin’ back a star. As if there’s some all-knowing all-seeing TED version of Flo Ziegfeld out front and he’s lovin’ it!

No, instead I got sidetracked.

On Tuesday I got an invitation to go to a conference for life coaches.

I have no idea where that came from, but it certainly got my attention. I got stuck in a loop wondering how someone goes about spending a whole weekend at the Marriott trying to tell people what to do when those people already make a living telling people what to do.

Granted, to be able to be a witness to such an epistemological dumpster fire would be fantastic, but the simple fact is that I cannnot go.

Why?

Keep your pants on and hold onto something because here we go.

OK so you’re at this shindig and you’re going up and down the aisles and there’s no end of people who have taken you for a mark. Right there, all in one place, all on the hoof, are oh so many rubes, Jethro’s, hayseeds and hicks* that it’s all the boothers can do to restrain them selves from letting out a good squeal. Once some convention lizards catch your eye they cuddle up and start to talk. They lay it on thick with no end of gusto and big smiles as they have come to believe it’s all about the attitude you put forward. So while they’re busy putting all that energy into that your job to to go limp in the eyes, look marginally slack jawed, and no with a small amount of feigned goodwill in your voice you say, “Never thought of that!”

Then they turn away to grab something to shove in your hand because, as my father used to say, “If you get in their hand it’s as good as sold!” But when they wheel around it finally dawns on them.

The gray hair?

The bags under the eyes?

The subtle, but obvious smirk?

In that instant there is the realization that leads to the audible gasp that means they know just one thing. While they were sizing you up they got sized up instead. The dropped g’s, the folksy aphorisms, and the Gomer-esque facade were only a sham.

It was a waste of time.

Which brings me to the larger point of this drivel –

The city gent vs. the bucolic bumpkin is one of the oldest theme in American lit and there is no better example of it than the current relationship between Donald Trump and the American mainstream media.

Take a minute, catch your breath and let’s run out another quote from Ms. Solnit

Maybe it also says something about the tendency to oversimplify. If simplification means reducing things to their essentials, oversimplification tosses aside the essential as well. It is a relentless pursuit of certainty and clarity in a world that generally offers neither, a desire to shove nuances and complexities into clear-cut binaries. Naïve cynicism concerns me because it flattens out the past and the future, and because it reduces the motivation to participate in public life, public discourse, and even intelligent conversation that distinguishes shades of gray, ambiguities and ambivalences, uncertainties, unknowns, and opportunities. Instead, we conduct our conversations like wars, and the heavy artillery of grim confidence is the weapon many reach for.

Naïve cynics shoot down possibilities, including the possibility of exploring the full complexity of any situation. They take aim at the less cynical, so that cynicism becomes a defensive posture and an avoidance of dissent. They recruit through brutality. If you set purity and perfection as your goals, you have an almost foolproof system according to which everything will necessarily fall short. But expecting perfection is naïve; failing to perceive value by using an impossible standard of measure is even more so. Cynics are often disappointed idealists and upholders of unrealistic standards. They are uncomfortable with victories, because victories are almost always temporary, incomplete, and compromised — but also because the openness of hope is dangerous, and in war, self-defense comes first. Naïve cynicism is absolutist; its practitioners assume that anything you don’t deplore you wholeheartedly endorse. But denouncing anything less than perfection as morally compromising means pursuing aggrandizement of the self, not engagement with a place or system or community, as the highest priority.

The point of this exercise is that Mr. Trump’s campaign has recreated in life the what the trope of the sophisticate vs. bumpkin has been to American lit since the 1600s. Since the end of WW2 there’s been a media aristocracy, a media curia of sorts, made up of columnists and writers who took it upon themselves to maintain the conventional wisdom. Sunday after Sunday they stood on guard to remind the populace of how they should think about certain subjects – or at least that’s how it was perceived.**

Over time this broke down.The most obvious example was the entire Bloggitysphere of the early to mid- 00’s. Suddenly everyone became his or her own best pundit. The conventional wisdom was still there, but it became diffused and scattered. Parallel thinking sprung up, but it had no master. It could not be ostracized by the DC-Beltway cocktail circuit. Not that this concerned the long-standing columnists and writers. Panic hadn’t come to the newspapers’ bottom line yet so – as a class – the print pundits thought of the Internet as little more than the JayCees fund-raiser talent show.

And on it went. The pros continued Walter Lippman’s tradition of looking into the souls of men and finding them – to borrow from Plato – too brassy for words, but nothing a good 1000-word Sunday-edition talking to couldn’t fix!

That’s why earlier this year the punditry believed they were line of defense against the eventual nomination of Donald Trump as the GOP candidate. But as of this past March it became obvious – even to a few pundits at least – that no one was paying attention to any of them – not even the great phallynx of the National Review. It finally became obvious that all those little brassy people – at a bare minimum – stopped paying attention to them long ago. What at least Kristof and some of his NRO associates had to come to terms with in the last 60 days is the small fact that lots and lots of people who were supposed to be kept in line by the punditry’s recitation of conventional wisdom had in fact written the pundits off as stuffed shirts as early as ’05.

So once again, as has always been the case in American lit – the bumpkin got the better part of the dandy. Trump sails on and the chattering class has to come to terms with the fact that nobody cares what they have to say.

My sole theory of how we got here – and it’s not much – is that economic upheaval always changes relationships. Since 2008-09 the newspapers are other large media have had problems and in flopping around it has dawned on a few of them that they aren’t the big deal that they used to be. Even the ones who worked their way out of the ’00s Bloggitysphere and found jobs in conventional media find themselves wondering if anyone is listening. Even the ones who made the transition from mere blogger to speaking for the entire media industry are in rough waters. More than a couple take to Medium now with diatribes that amount to little more than “LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME! I’M STILL HERE!”

In closing let me say, YMMV, FOOM!,Excelsior! and you’re free to blame me personally for Trump.

I will take the hot tears rolling down your cheeks at this very moment as your way of thanking me for that.

Let’s dance.

* DICLOSURE: I self identify as a ‘hick’ and believe ‘redneck’ is a lifestyle choice.

** I believe this is the white-core core of all media hatred, but we’ll have to save that subject for another time because I gotta go to the grocery store.

More like Olde Engligh 800 Law if you ask me

“There is no pleasure which men of every age and sect have more generally agreed to mention with contempt than the gratifications of the palate, an entertainment so far removed from intellectual happiness that scarcely the most shameless of the sensual herd have dared to defend it: yet even to this, the lowest of our delights, to this, though neither quick nor lasting, is health with all its activity and sprightliness daily sacrificed; and for this are half the miseries endured which urge impatience to call on death.” Dr. Johnson

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After struggling with finding some material to put on this site, it struck me this week that a carefully worded, albeit lengthy, post revolving around how to deal with the waiters who are constantly asking the noxious question, “How is everything tasting?” might just be the ticket. But Mom put the kibosh on that idea saying that I’d need a whole ‘nother blog to recap the many times we’ve been kicked out of restaurants by waiters who found my responses to not be what they were expecting. The now quashed post began with such an incident. After the kid asked how everything was tasting I smiled and said, “Suspiciously like it came from the take-out place up the street.”

His manager supervised our trip to the curb.

Instead what follows are some observation which need to get rolled out before the subject matter becomes too stale.

Are You an Audience or an Oil Painting?

A very tardy elf finally dropped of my last Christmas present a couple of days ago, Kliph Nesterhoff’s The Comedians: Drunks, Thieves, Scoundrels, and the History of American Comedy. Thanks to WFMU’s now defunct web site, Beware of the Blog, I’ve been able to keep up with the always fascinating Mr. Nesterhoff for years, but none of what he wrote prior before prepares you for his absolutely addictive page-turner, Comedians.

Two examples:

– The chapter on Vegas includes a page about Shecky Greene and Buddy Hackett getting into a fistfight in the middle of a Las Vegas street in the middle of the morning. The dispute had started over paying their mutual gardener to have his teeth fixed after a recent dispute over services rendered. Greene hauled Hackett into some off-Strip joint, willed three 7’s to pop on the craps table and handed the money to Hackett. Despite the quick resolution the fight ensued. Hackett was left in the street after beaten beaten by Greene.

Hackett called Green a few hours later and said, “Ya know, if anybody saw us they might think we don’t like each other.”

– Joan Rivers thought Johnny Carson was far smarter than Dick Cavett. She told Mr. Nesterhoff she loved Cavett, but anybody could talk to Orson Wells and come off looking great.

She added, Johnny Carson could talk to morons and make them look good.

Therefore Ms. Rivers conceded point, game, and match to Mr. Carson.

My That’s a Big Hat! Can I stand Under It if It Rains?

The militia/patriot/ol’ boys in big ol’ hats has been something of a constant in life for almost 40 years.

My first encounter with such folks, or at least the Australopithecine version of those folks, came shortly after I got my first job as a professional pain-in-the-ass. Back then my Monday mornings were spent chronicling the wit, wisdom, and unchallenged decisions of county commissioner, G. Harold Steffens.

G. Harold had been county commissioner for so long that we were – even then- rapidly reaching a point where no one could prove that anyone else had been commissioner. Ask most people that they’d tell you G. Harold had been commissioner since “Jesus was a buck private.” Talk to the Catholics and they’d go with the more classically themed, “Since Hector was a pup.”

Nuns.

What can I tell you?

Where were we?

G. Harold was a curious man. After seeing me in the back of the gallery for several weeks he approached me and introduced himself. Obviously he looked past the long hair and unruly sideburns to see that I probably wasn’t carrying fleas, ticks or mites, much less anything else us dirty hippies had to offer. I stood, shook his hand -firmly- and looked him the eye while he asked me a couple of questions about downstream water rights. I gave him what I thought was a reasonable, informed, and well thought-out opinion on the matter. That’s when he let go of my hand and said, “Nobody wants to hear about your book learnin’, son.”

From that moment forward I was on G. Howard’s shit list. Not that it bothered me because being on his shit list was much like being born with blue eyes- that’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s gonna be until you die.

Here’s the part where you have to deal with my ancient first-world problems.

Finding lunch at that job was a bitch. The only thing nearby was a lunch counter/newsstand operation which thankfully had pretty good food. For $1.98 you could get a chicken fried steak with coleslaw and mash potatoes. If you wanted fries instead they wouldn’t look at you funny and still you’d get just as much gravy. A biscuit to go all that was 25 cents more, but G. Howard always got a biscuit for free as a small thanks for his many years of public service. One afternoon I stopped in to get a large coffee to go and a pack of Marlboros. My purchase, as well as G. Howard’s swiss steak, was interrupted by a group of men who loudly told G. Howard that they had no intention of paying their property taxes for the following reasons:

– The dollar was not backed by gold.

– G. Howard’s meeting sported an American flag with gold fringe so no decision made with that kind of flag in the room was legal.

– There’s lots and lots of Old English law to back this up!!!

– Besides – they needed the money to buy weapons as the Black Panthers had raised an army and were – at that very moment – doing drills in the hills above Oakland.

At that point two things were immediately noticeable. The cash register clerk was so nervous she tried to give me a pack of those lemon-lime dainty dame smokes that were all the rage in the 70s. One of the protesters stood on the table of an empty booth and shouted, “A WISE MAN SAID,‘IF YOU’RE NOT PART OF THE SOLUTION, YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM! CAN ANYBODY TELL ME WHO THAT WISE MAN WAS?”

I spoke up and said, “Eldrige Cleaver, one of the founders of The Black Panther Party.”

What can I say?

Book learnin’.

G. Howard got up and walked over to the main standing on the table. In a very quiet voice he asked the gent, “Does a man take care of his family?”

A wobbly nod was seen.

G. Howard wiped his mouth, paused for a few beats and said, “One way a man takes care of his family is to do the right thing and pay his bills. Are you man enough to do that?”

The man on the table got down and slunk out with the rest of his pals.

G. Howard fixed me with a look and went back to his swiss steak.

As far as I know – to this day and throughout eternity I am still on his shit list.

But I’d like to believe I’m still on his shit list with an asterisk next to my name.

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

Home entertainment systems are such interesting things. Mr. Sharp’s first one was a cassette player that came with TWO speakers. In what must have been an idle moment of no import, Mr. S was going through the bargain bin at the local Woolworth’s when he came upon The Man Who Sold the World, something that had no proved to be a local best seller. He phoned and said I had to hear this.

This week the tributes to David Bowie came in two types. First there were those who said he gave us the permission to understand that we are fluid selves that we cannot be bound by conventions. Others said he was their gateway into a world of adventuresome listening that has lasted a lifetime. Bowie leads to Roxy which leads to Eno, which leads to Robert Fripp getting out of ditch digging, which leads to…

I turned on the CBS morning news and when Charlie Rose said David was dead there were tears streaming down my face.

One of the first Bowie songs that got our attention was Andy Warhol. Mr. Sharp sent this a few days ago. It’s a video of Dana Gillespie, the singer who Bowie wrote the song for.

Call me when you're loaded

“The pox of such antic, lisping, affecting fantasticoes; these new tuners of accents! ‘By Jesu,a very good blade! a very tall man! a very goodwhore!’ Why, is not this a lamentable thing,grandsire, that we should be thus afflicted withthese strange flies, these fashion-mongers, these perdona-mi’s, who stand so much on the new form,that they cannot at ease on the old bench? O, theirbones, their bones!” Mercutio

“If a man does not make new acquaintance as he advances through life, he will soon find himself left alone. A man, Sir, should keep his friendship in constant repair.” Dr. Johnson

“You want a friend in Washington? Get a dog.” Harry S Truman

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Consternation seems to be the word of the week.

I didn’t mean to set off any alarms, but in the course of very casual conversation I mentioned that I had given money to a radio station outside the area. After the other end of the conversation ceased hyperventilating he managed to puff out, “But, but we have a fine local station. They’re a big supporter of the local music scene!”

No argument there, other than to say they do a damn piss-poor job of it. Most of the days they play one song after another that would have you think that somebody’s Goth died.

“Steven A. Wilkens, know to his friends as Azriel of a Thousand Cuts, died unexpected Wednesday after being momentarily happy. When reached for comment his grandmother, Viola Wilkens said, “I only tickled him a little. When he was a baby he loved that. What Have I done? WHAT HAVE I DONE?”

And so on and so forth.

The balance of the consternation seems to have crept in via social media. In the past 10 days I’ve notice a determined chin-first uptick in the number of people wondering what to do about having a digital connection with people they no longer have anything in common with. It started with James Urbaniak reading aloud from Brie Williams moving, painful monolog, Status* and ended with learning a new term to day.

Uncuffed.

According to a panel of experts on NPR – uncuffing is when you send your ex down a digital rat hole, but in a nice way. Rather than using the nuclear option of unfriending, you merely take a break from the individual. You create a little space between you and FB’s algorithm which used to shows you every little thing about your ex because, well, you were constantly in each others’ feeds. Given that this, and Alaska Wolf Joe assures me that it is, the season of breaking up with your old high-school significant other, the issue is in front of many people.

Once you’ve lived long enough you come to understand that not all relationships last forever. But there is the small problem of those who will not accept this face and how each of us reacts to cutting the ties in the digital age. Sometimes we arrive at a point where we are like Grammy Viola and we do have to ask ourselves, “What have I done?”

Why?

Sometimes it’s like the old suitcase in the laundry room. My mother believed it was bad luck to give away anything that came to you as a matter of good fortune. One time she won a suitcase at a Knights of Columbus raffle which she very sheepishly brought home. Declaring is “hideous as sin” she put it on a high shelf where it stood sentinel to the washer. It did not move until I turned the house over to the woman managing the estate sale.

The suitcase stayed put partly out of entropy and partly out of an iota of doubt that my mother could have been right. Chucking the thing out might very well have brought bad luck and maybe telling that guy we once worked with, “That was 20 years ago.” would have brought something awful into our lives We’d blame ourselves and look to that one thing to explain the cause.

If only I hadn’t…

Sometimes I think we hang on to certain relationships because it’s something like a religious procedure like counting rosary beads or facing Mecca. That’s what you do because that’s what you’ve always done. In following it through to the end you achieve something that gives you balance.

So how did we get here?

Last summer someone in a FB group devoted to something I used to belong to tried to openly pick a fight with me to create drama. As Alaska Wolf Joe likes to say – when you’re in high school there’s never enough drama, but once you’re done you work like a dog to rid your life of the stuff. I did nothing to escalate the situation. In fact, I said nothing at all.

Nonetheless I feel awful.

I’m not sure if it’s Grammy Viola’s awful or something awful fell on my head because I gave away the suitcase.

Either way, it’s awful.

As the year ends the whole thing still leaves me with much to think about.

But you ’n me?

We’re totally fine.

* Well worth the 13 minutes.

I ain't gonna work on Maggie's content farm no more

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“Orthodox economics is in many ways an empty box. Its understanding of the world is similar to that of the physical sciences in the Middle Ages. A few insights have been obtained which will stand the test of time, but they are very few indeed, and the whole basis of conventional economics is deeply flawed… Increasingly, the subject is taught not as a way of learning how the world might operate, but as a set of discovered truths about how the world does operate… It cannot be stated too often that very little of the
content of (economic) textbooks is known to be true, in the sense that many of the statements on, say, engineering are known to be true.” Paul Omerod c.1994

“Whatever happened to economies of scale?… The excellent companies understand that beyond a certain surprisingly small size, diseconomies of scale seem to set in with a vengeance.” Tom Peters

“You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.” Inigo Montoya

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If it really is true that blogging is back and 2015 is the new 2006 then it is definitely time for some old school blogging.

And what’s the first thing you need for some good old fashion blogging?

A casual disregard for the source material.

I didn’t read Jonathan Chait’s rant in the New York Times last weekend and neither did you. OK, that’s not entirely fair. I did give it a cursory look and Mom gave it a quick speed read. We both agreed that there was no point in putting any quality time into his piece for the same reason that you can stand next to a working heat lamp and know that you’re standing next to a working heat lamp. Even from a distance you could see that Mr. Chait’s bile was ready to jump right off the page and/or screen and neither Mom nor I wanted to stand there and let it get all over our breakfast. We’ve seen this sort of thing before and we pretty much know when to get out of the way.

Hell, we even know where it comes from.

Here’s how it works: Chait, if that really is his name, like all rapidly aging white men, walks around the house and is suddenly overcome with an uneasiness he can’t explain. First, he looks outside and sees no kids on his lawn. Next he makes his way to his desk and shuffles things around and around. That’s when it begins to dawn on him – someone has been moving his cheese. So he hollers downstairs to see if the old lady has seen his cheese, she hollers back, “YOU WERE THE LAST ONE TO HAVE IT!” and that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Then he says to himself, “By God, someone moved my cheese.”

That’s when he swings into action. Sitting at his desk he rapidly and nervously flips through his Rolodex to see if he still has the after hours number for the Old Cronies Desk at the New York Times. His call is answered after two rings by another rapidly aging white man who was dying for the phone to ring so he wouldn’t have to deal with th’ e-mail. For the next hours there is huffing, there is puffing, and there is a precipitous rise in the blood pressure of all involved, and they’re all going to make sure this outrage is contagious.

Long ago and far away the men of America handled this sort of thing by either going to the corner tavern to bitch into a Schlitz or mowing the lawn within an inch of its life. Come Monday they would channel that energy into commerce and that’s why we went to moon, built the best cars in the world, and invented the Marlboro cigarette, a device so ingenious that it slowly but surely shorten the life of Leonid Brehznev, the long sitting premier of the Soviet Union.

Now?

Now that energy is spent belching fire into the dwindling number of pages that make up the Sunday New York Times.

Sadly, Mom ‘n me have a front row seat on all of this. In fact, if the outrage gets ginned up properly herds of old white men convene conferences and panels which means that I have to go downtown and represent us. Prior to departure I always have to rummage through the closet and find THE CLOTHES. While that Harry Potter kid can poke around an old steamer trunk and come up with his Cloak of Invisibility, I have to rifle through the closet to find what can only be called my Cloak of Respectability.

Seriously.

For the better part of three years I meticulously went through the racks of the short ‘n portly section of the major chains until I came up with an outfit that would fool most people into thinking – at first glance at least – that I am not a fat little goofball.

The coat alone is a London Fog.

No shit.

In fact, it proves my father was right when he said that the Army surplus store wasn’t the only place that sold clothes.

Where were we?

Oh yeah, so I put on the suit of lights, which includes a jaunty scarf in the winter months, and I wander into lecture halls so that men far whiter and much older than I am can rant and rave and bitch, but mostly use the word “scale” over and over and over. Supposedly they’re talking about economies of scale, but they don’t know that. The years and years of newspaper training taught them that money was a dirty, dirty thing they should never touch. This left most of them incapable of understanding even rudimentary economics. Their repeated attempts to talk about scale is like trying to have your grade school nuns write erotic poetry. Sure, maybe one or two might make a valiant attempt, one poem might be really good, but in the long run you’ve only got so many people going against the grain of what is deep in their hearts.

And no good can comes of that.

Want proof?

Why did Andrew Sullivan quit this week?

Scale.

Why is neighborhood news a bust?

Never gonna scale.

The last one revolves around the newspapers’ buying up weekly papers in the 80’s and 90’s. Yes, it scaled and then it collapsed. It left countless small towns and neighborhood with a weekly paper that was nothing more than classifieds and legal notices – and that just the ones that didn’t go under in a whipstitch. All that THANK YOU ST. JUDE and sheriff’s auction notices get swept under the rug because they do not serve the argument of scale.

I’d say more, but I have nothing more. Yes, that’s not good old school blogging form, but at least I can leave you with this cheap shot – everything the old white newspaper men sincerely want the rest of us to do can be summed up in this exchange between Peter Cook and Dudley More.

Dudley Moore: Yes, indeed. Do you feel you’ve learnt by your mistakes here?

Peter Cook: I think I have, yes, and I think I can probably repeat them almost perfectly. I know my mistakes inside out.

Dudley Moore: I’m sure you will repeat them. Well, thank you very much, Sir Arthur.

Is there a point here?

No, because this is old school blogging so I’ll end with a couple of long block quotes rather than working on a conclusion.

Hank Green, one of those YouTube vloggers who interviewed Obama, said this about the criticism he and his fellow interviewers received from those in the working media:

There is nothing actually legitimate about Fox News (or MSNBC for that matter) and young people know this. They don’t trust news organizations because news organizations have given them no reason to be trusting. These channels exist not to inform but to uphold the biases and values of particular ideologies. Ideologies and values, by the way, that very few young people embody. Even when they try to strike a balance, they do it by pitting different perspectives against each other in staged arguments. But neither perspective looks familiar to most people under the age of 40, so they just tune out.

The somewhat later he added:

Legacy media isn’t mocking us because we aren’t a legitimate source of information; they’re mocking us because they’re terrified. Their legitimacy came from the fact that they have access to distribution channels and that they get to be in the White House press pool because of some long-ago established procedures that assumed they would use that power in the public interest. In reality, those things are becoming less and less important and less and less true. Distribution is free to anyone with a cell phone and the legitimacy of cable news sounds to me like an oxymoron. The median-aged CNN viewer is 60. For Fox, it’s 68.

None of this has anything to do with political correctness. What it’s about is that the train has left the station and, as Mom’s old boss used to say, you can either be on it or under it. Information has no preference about how it is delivered only people do. If Mr. Chait wishes to revoke his legitimacy by clinging to his old school ways – then so be it.

Me?

I’m gonna go hang up all $350 in clothes with the other stuff that was originally meant for our boys in the Philipines. Once I think I’ve wrung all the $350 I got tied up in those duds I’ll probably take a flyer on going downtown to hear how the damn kids just won’t get off the newspaper’s lawn.

ed.note: The Axis of Drivel graphic was designed by Berlin Wally and appropriated without permission because in old school blogging that’s how we rolled.

"For one more time let your madness run with mine"

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” Marshall McLuhan

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Fall arrived with a vengeance this week. The sky darkened and the clouds dumped rain almost continuously for three days which put me in the market for a waterproof hat as I still have some outdoor work to do. The selection of such hats was rather limited. Most had golf-equipment logos while one sported the Cabela’s logo. I went with the Cabela’s for obvious reasons. If you wear a hat that suggests you play golf – which I don’t as I consider it an untreatable social disease – then people will start talking to you about golf. Eventually they’ll even ask if you want to play some time and you’re then forced into an uncomfortable discussion which will lead to some golf evangelization on their part. But if you wear a hat that suggests you might be shooting Bambi people refuse to make eye contact and cross the street after they’re close enough to see the logo on the hat. Then I can get about what I have to do without any unnecessary social interaction.

Now please don’t get me wrong – if you want to play golf or shoot Bambi that’s your business. I have no interest in shooting Bambi because it requires getting up at 0:dark-thirty and I don’t do 0:dark-thirty. Hell, I wouldn’t get out of bed at that hour to watch Mom do the shimmy in a string bikini.

Wait … no, I would get out of bed for that, but the exception does not prove the rule in this case.

Strictly as an aside, I am an advocate of open-carry sarcasm, but I’m not zealous about it. You have to, as Goethe said, know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Therefore if you meet an open-carry firearms advocate who is openly carrying an AR-15 into Appleby’s it’s a good idea to do the prudent thing and not tell the guy, “Heyyyy – if I had a TapOut shirt as cool as yours I wouldn’t wash it either!”

But that’s not important now.

The larger question is what to do with social media after years of carefully constructing an online persona (ABOVE:last known selfie) which suggests that you dabble mostly in antisocial behavior?

Not that I’m all that antisocial, it’s more like I’m platform agnostic when it comes to sociability. In fact, if you wanted to buy me a martini I’d be convivial as all hell, but if I have to drink my own gin I’l stick to consulting the cat about how much vermouth to use before drawing the blinds. This, however, is not something that works well in the age of social media. Social media puts us in a situation where we are sometimes stuck interacting with others regardless of how we see ourselves. Therefore I have decided to take an inventory of what social media accounts I have and list a few details because – when you come right down to it – I really have nothing better to do.

FACEBOOK – might as well start with the big dog. Here I am free to come and go as I have no relatives. Yes, there are people out there who share my DNA, but as the late-life child of two previously married people there is a considerable gap in age that has never been bridged correctly. Case in point – when my father died I got a sympathy call from a cousin who wandered off the topic of my father’s death to say, “I know what everyone says behind my back. I know that everyone calls me ‘Asshole.'” He then went on an on about unfair that was and how hard he worked on researching our family tree. He wondered if I’d like the electronic version since he heard that, unlike the rest of them, I knew how to use the Interwebs and knew how to do a blog. When his email arrived there was a very amateurish looking Excel sheet attached. All the various family members and cousins were listed by their full names and birth dates including everyone from my father’s first marriage. A little further under that my mother and I were summed up by the word “other” set in parentheses.

Asshole.

So while the rest of you are stuck with FB because your various in- and -outlaws demand it I can come and go and run out as many non sequiturs as I like seeing as I have no one to answer to at Thanksgiving.

Neener.

Neener.

TWITTER – this one I feel really guilty about neglecting. I actually derive so much real utility from, but I suffer from anxiety that I have nothing to give back.

Google Plus – if Facebook is the Michael Corleone of social media then Google Plus is Fredo. To stretch it out a little further – some one needs to take Google Plus fishing one last time and throw it over the side. I guess I still have an account over there after not using it in four years, but I lost the password and have no reason to recover it.

ELLO – In a world full of new social media startups is there always room for Ello? I think I’ve come to the end of the road with this one as I have no idea what to do with it. The single most prolific poster is some guy who starts each post, “I am what would have been,in an earlier time, known as a cad or a bounder. In this Year of Our Lord 2014 I now go by the sobriquet, “Troll” and I am a most vexing one at that. Nota bene, s’il vous plait: that I shall not suffer those I believe to be fools gladly and I shall mock and jape them to the full extent not one jot or tittle more!” After that I usually stop reading as it’s all this blah blah blah about how he was raised by socially prominent wolves and attended only the best and most exclusive dens of iniquity on the East Coast. The second most prolific poster is some one who may or may not be a transvestite who only posts photos about how a certain piece of clothing looks. I have no interest in participating because I can stay home and say, “No, your ass looks dandy!”

I don’t need the Internet(s) for that.

MEDIUM – I have an account, but really don’t know what to do with it. (And when did hosted blogging get to be social media?) Most of the content on Medium seems to be the sort of thing you’d get from a chatty newspaper columnist who just ran out 500 words on finding half a donut in the break room. Some guy at one of those SEC party schools, where the worst thing the student activists do is manufacture Jäger bombs, wants Mom to write something. If anything comes of it I’ll let you know.

TUMBLROH SHIT that’s right I have a Tumblr page! I really don’t do much with it other than reblog things I see on other Tumblr pages and run out a few of my totally …meh phots such as this.

1wnwnite

No, seriously that’s a real thing. One of my clients put it on. I had to point out that he had no bourbon, but it was his first one and you gotta get the bugs out somewhere.

Then there’s the various blog(s) I’ve had over the years where I feel most at home. Given all those other forms I agonize over this one whether it’s not having an idea for a post or days later thinking that the post that just went up wasn’t good enough. But I’d have to say that the greatest difference is the room to stretch out. Facebook and Twitter rely on enforced brevity which is not a bad thing as brevity serves their purposes quite well.

But they still can’t match the comfortable feeling that your blog gives you when it lets you wander around in your pajamas and fart at will.

"For one more time let your madness run with mine"

“The medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” Marshall McLuhan

0s0c11lm3di1

Fall arrived with a vengeance this week. The sky darkened and the clouds dumped rain almost continuously for three days which put me in the market for a waterproof hat as I still have some outdoor work to do. The selection of such hats was rather limited. Most had golf-equipment logos while one sported the Cabela’s logo. I went with the Cabela’s for obvious reasons. If you wear a hat that suggests you play golf – which I don’t as I consider it an untreatable social disease – then people will start talking to you about golf. Eventually they’ll even ask if you want to play some time and you’re then forced into an uncomfortable discussion which will lead to some golf evangelization on their part. But if you wear a hat that suggests you might be shooting Bambi people refuse to make eye contact and cross the street after they’re close enough to see the logo on the hat. Then I can get about what I have to do without any unnecessary social interaction.

Now please don’t get me wrong – if you want to play golf or shoot Bambi that’s your business. I have no interest in shooting Bambi because it requires getting up at 0:dark-thirty and I don’t do 0:dark-thirty. Hell, I wouldn’t get out of bed at that hour to watch Mom do the shimmy in a string bikini.

Wait … no, I would get out of bed for that, but the exception does not prove the rule in this case.

Strictly as an aside, I am an advocate of open-carry sarcasm, but I’m not zealous about it. You have to, as Goethe said, know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em. Therefore if you meet an open-carry firearms advocate who is openly carrying an AR-15 into Appleby’s it’s a good idea to do the prudent thing and not tell the guy, “Heyyyy – if I had a TapOut shirt as cool as yours I wouldn’t wash it either!”

But that’s not important now.

The larger question is what to do with social media after years of carefully constructing an online persona (ABOVE:last known selfie) which suggests that you dabble mostly in antisocial behavior?

Not that I’m all that antisocial, it’s more like I’m platform agnostic when it comes to sociability. In fact, if you wanted to buy me a martini I’d be convivial as all hell, but if I have to drink my own gin I’l stick to consulting the cat about how much vermouth to use before drawing the blinds. This, however, is not something that works well in the age of social media. Social media puts us in a situation where we are sometimes stuck interacting with others regardless of how we see ourselves. Therefore I have decided to take an inventory of what social media accounts I have and list a few details because – when you come right down to it – I really have nothing better to do.

FACEBOOK – might as well start with the big dog. Here I am free to come and go as I have no relatives. Yes, there are people out there who share my DNA, but as the late-life child of two previously married people there is a considerable gap in age that has never been bridged correctly. Case in point – when my father died I got a sympathy call from a cousin who wandered off the topic of my father’s death to say, “I know what everyone says behind my back. I know that everyone calls me ‘Asshole.'” He then went on an on about unfair that was and how hard he worked on researching our family tree. He wondered if I’d like the electronic version since he heard that, unlike the rest of them, I knew how to use the Interwebs and knew how to do a blog. When his email arrived there was a very amateurish looking Excel sheet attached. All the various family members and cousins were listed by their full names and birth dates including everyone from my father’s first marriage. A little further under that my mother and I were summed up by the word “other” set in parentheses.

Asshole.

So while the rest of you are stuck with FB because your various in- and -outlaws demand it I can come and go and run out as many non sequiturs as I like seeing as I have no one to answer to at Thanksgiving.

Neener.

Neener.

TWITTER – this one I feel really guilty about neglecting. I actually derive so much real utility from, but I suffer from anxiety that I have nothing to give back.

Google Plus – if Facebook is the Michael Corleone of social media then Google Plus is Fredo. To stretch it out a little further – some one needs to take Google Plus fishing one last time and throw it over the side. I guess I still have an account over there after not using it in four years, but I lost the password and have no reason to recover it.

ELLO – In a world full of new social media startups is there always room for Ello? I think I’ve come to the end of the road with this one as I have no idea what to do with it. The single most prolific poster is some guy who starts each post, “I am what would have been,in an earlier time, known as a cad or a bounder. In this Year of Our Lord 2014 I now go by the sobriquet, “Troll” and I am a most vexing one at that. Nota bene, s’il vous plait: that I shall not suffer those I believe to be fools gladly and I shall mock and jape them to the full extent not one jot or tittle more!” After that I usually stop reading as it’s all this blah blah blah about how he was raised by socially prominent wolves and attended only the best and most exclusive dens of iniquity on the East Coast. The second most prolific poster is some one who may or may not be a transvestite who only posts photos about how a certain piece of clothing looks. I have no interest in participating because I can stay home and say, “No, your ass looks dandy!”

I don’t need the Internet(s) for that.

MEDIUM – I have an account, but really don’t know what to do with it. (And when did hosted blogging get to be social media?) Most of the content on Medium seems to be the sort of thing you’d get from a chatty newspaper columnist who just ran out 500 words on finding half a donut in the break room. Some guy at one of those SEC party schools, where the worst thing the student activists do is manufacture Jäger bombs, wants Mom to write something. If anything comes of it I’ll let you know.

TUMBLROH SHIT that’s right I have a Tumblr page! I really don’t do much with it other than reblog things I see on other Tumblr pages and run out a few of my totally …meh phots such as this.

1wnwnite

No, seriously that’s a real thing. One of my clients put it on. I had to point out that he had no bourbon, but it was his first one and you gotta get the bugs out somewhere.

Then there’s the various blog(s) I’ve had over the years where I feel most at home. Given all those other forms I agonize over this one whether it’s not having an idea for a post or days later thinking that the post that just went up wasn’t good enough. But I’d have to say that the greatest difference is the room to stretch out. Facebook and Twitter rely on enforced brevity which is not a bad thing as brevity serves their purposes quite well.

But they still can’t match the comfortable feeling that your blog gives you when it lets you wander around in your pajamas and fart at will.

How's Every Little Thing?

(Jonah) Peretti’s article is an interpretation of Jameson’s “Postmodernism and Consumer Society” and Deleuze and Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, both of which use “schizophrenia” as a key part of their analysis.”Schizophrenia” here doesn’t have much of anything to do with the actual mental illness (as Jameson writes, “I’m not even sure that the view of schizophrenia I’m about to outline … is clinically accurate”), and in retrospect the use of an actual illness from which millions of people suffer as an abstract tool of cultural criticism is rather cringe-inducing. I use the term here since it’s the preferred jargon within cultural theory, but, for the record, it’s gross and they should have found another word.In context of the theory, both Jameson and Deleuze/Guattari use “schizophrenic” to refer to a person without a defined identity or ego. Jameson, for one, thinks “late” capitalism (which he said was beginning to emerge in the mid-1980s, as he was writing) causes that kind of schizophrenia. People usually build identities, after all, at least in part from cultural items (songs, movies, TV shows, advertisements, etc) they encounter. But Jameson thinks that if those items are presented in a scrambled, confusing way to people, they have a hard time forming identities, and run the risk of schizophrenia. That scrambling of cultural content was starting to happen in the mid-1980s, when Jameson was writing. Peretti’s favorite example of this phenomenon is MTV. Whereas variety shows and televised concerts in the 1960s and 70s provided context and structure to the music they presented, MTV instead gave viewers a rapid succession of wildly different sounds and visual accompaniments to those sounds, without any logic connecting one video to another. That, in Jameson’s framework, serves to confuse viewers, harm their ability to use culture to build identities, and increase the risk of people failing to build identities altogether — making them “schizophrenic” in his terminology. from Buzzfeed’s founder used to write Marxist theory and it explains Buzzfeed perfectly by Dylan Matthews

As many of you have asked,”S0OOOO where you been keeping yourself?”

0l1tl3y35

The ancient Gnostics believed that we are all one small piece of information shy of total enlightenment. Stated another way, there might be something in the small print in the back of The Racing Form that might set anyone of us free or at least let us find out exactly what Yoda meant when he said, “Luminous beings are we.”

As some of you know I have long held this belief very close to my heart and I have endlessly sorted through volumes of information just to obtain that one small golden nugget that will take me up out of the primordial slime. What follows are a few data points and minutia I’ve found that proved to be dead ends. These are posted as public service to all of you who seek enlightenment.

Please stop making a spectacle of yourself, your hot tears of joy are thanks enough for the moment.

In no particular order:

– Speaking of Deleuze and Guattari I’m reading Piketty as if it were manga, i.e. back to front. French moderns seem to save it all up for the end. D&L can only be understaood by starting at the end. Therefore the last two chapters of these endavors are the meat and what comes before is an endless series compulsory exercises endemic to French culture. Currently there are some questions as to the math involved some of which is represented as graphs here. At this point I really can’t weigh in on either side of the argument, but I will say that it’s refreshing that it hasn’t turned into yet another tv hollering match because MATH!

– Oh yes, the current state and future of the media… I knew you’d ask, you always ask. Here comes the subset of my recent thoughts on the state of all things related to that.

– – For roughly five years there has been – supposedly – a conversation going on about the media.

This is not true.

Everyone has been talking all at once.

For five years everyone who has formed any kind of opinion on the subject hasn’t so much given voice to it so much as coughed it up without any regard. There have been panels and conferences on the subject where people speak in turn, as that is the social convention, but -all the same- they are all talking at once.

No one is listening.

– – In the previous entry I talked about living through an era of chaos as a traditional dialectic resolves itself. Having spent some time since that was written with MEN somewhat older than myself who hold high positions in the media I am now convinced they are all Cloud William. I’d engage them more, but I’d look awful in that piss yellow velour pullover.

– – WRT the ongoing issue of scale – we overlook the fact that there is a shock-and-awe component to scale. As Habermas points out – journalism began as the simple dissemination of discrete facts and then evolved into also offering opinion which he says was an attempt to gain influence over the public discussion. Granted, large scale media has lost the exlucsive rights to published opinion, but it is key to the discussion of scale. What goes unsaid is that if a media outlet does not grow large enough then it will not have any influence on the public discourse. Which assumes that the intent of any organization was to seek that influence. Never mind that any given organization can run out bare fact and little else due to the Internet’s ability to create a division of labor. The opinion people can do their thing and the infobots can do theirs.

BTW – and somewhat along those lines – anyone who uses the term ‘media ecosystem’ more than twice in 10 minutes should be taken out and shot.

– – Seeing as people will wet their pants on command for Facebook it then makes sense that the conversation about The Right to be Forgotten can only revolve around Google. Where it becomes problematic for the media is how Google responds and as some of you know Metafilter is already on the receiving end of this. Long term this could be the end of uniques and pv’s as an indicator of readership. Talking to a phd in th’ journalism on Friday night he said he and some colleagues were aware of this and were starting to think that more abstract notions of engagement might replace simple metrics in the long run.

Again – it’s all chaos and we should take a cue from how long it took the Romans to refine the Forum.

– – Also I prefer to think of the work as the creation of context instead of The Production of Meaning. If I were asked to be a keynote speaker to explain the meta that drives me I would simply introduce myself, show this eight minutes of video, thank the assembled for the opportunity, and sit down.

The only thing I really have to tell anybody in the business is that about once a week I want to sit down and have a good cry.

But they don’t want to hear that.

On a somewhat cheerier note – this page first appeared on the Interwebs 14 years ago this week. As most of you know it has gone through several incarnations and its upkeep has gone wanting for the past few years. (See also, have a good cry.) The platform is not dead and feels rather expansive when all you’ve used lately is social media. I only wish I didn’t have every thought knocked out my head by the demands of life these days as I would love to explore this space