660660 last sentence test

    In Japan, where immersive entertainment is their one job, th unemployed gather @ a carnival whose main attraction is electronic water cannons that are triggered by human urination. For ¥700 (~6 USD) you can hook one of these cannons up to yr urethra and enter a contest named "Pisyphus", in which th object is to be th first to propel yr naked guy avatar and his rubber boulder to th top of a plastic mountain, w/ animatronic obstacles (ducks and groundhogs, mainly) placed @ regular intervals along th way. Th stronger yr pee stream, th greater a chance you have of winning th race. Th purse for winning a race of 100 contestants is ¥60,000 (~500 USD), and powerful pissers are encouraged to compete multiple times in th course of an evening w/ th aid of 🌊tsunami🌊 beverages whose labels claim piss-enhancing properties. Th carnival makes th bulk of its profits on th bets spectators place on pissers. Babbies, though somewhat erratic in their urination habits, are often named among th favourites by oddsmakers; and th sport's detractors report that th 🌊yakuza🌊 have begun training talented young pissmakers for th competition. I am winning this race.

    My prosthetic pee stream rages forth w/ an aura of invincibility; I wake in th nick of time, cut th flow before it hits th bed, stagger to my ex-wife's bathroom, and continue th stream into th toilet. Now I am one level of reality higher than Japan. Now I remember my roommates talking bout how bedwetting past bedwetting age is a common symptom amongst future serial killers. Th memory triggers a sensation of unreality, as if my ex-wife's bathroom will dissolve, too, and I will wake in a different bed, threatening to wet it, and have to rush to a different bathroom, and so on and so forth, each urination event triggering a higher reality until you and I are inhabiting God's body, peeing forth stars (and th planets who love them) in th toilet flush of th Milky Way

    Leaving aside the bloody catalogue of oppression -- which we are, in one way, too familiar with already -- what this does to the subjugated -- the most private, the most serious thing this does to the subjugated -- is to destroy his sense of reality. It destroys, for example, his father's authority over him. His father can no longer tell him anything because the past has disappeared. And his father has no power in the world. This means, in the case of an American Negro, born in that glittering republic, and the moment you are born, since you don't know any better, every stick and stone, every face is white; and since you have not yet seen a mirror, you suppose that you are, too. It comes as a great shock, around the age of 5 or 6 or 7, to discover the flag to which you have pledged allegiance, along with everybody else, has not pledged allegiance to you. It comes as a great shock to the skull when Gary Cooper killing off the Indians -- when you were rooting for Gary Cooper -- that the Indians were you.

-- James Baldwin, from a debate w/ William F. Buckley (1965)

I think one can write one's biography in terms of being rescued by one's failures.

-- William Kentridge, from "How we make sense of the world"

mardi gras day 2014

bone gang 1

Treme, Season 4, Episode 1

trigger warning

halo Bunk !

th Honorable South


louisville KY 2013


Bayou Boogaloo


I think uncertainty is an essential category. As soon as one gets certain -- you hear it in people's voices -- as they're certain of something, their voice gets louder, more authoritarian and authoritative, and to defend the peace their voice and their certainty bring an army with guns to stand next to them to hold onto that. So there's a desperation in all certainty. And I think the category of uncertainty political, uncertainty philosophical, uncertainty of images is much closer to how the world is. And that's also related to provisionality -- to the fact that we can see the world as a series of facts, of photographs; or you can see it as a process of unfolding, where the same thing in a different context has a very different meaning or a very different form. And animation in a way builds that into the very process itself. But I think that provisionality and uncertainty is a very key category. And so the uncertainty from the very start of the film -- there's not a script or a storyboard -- is on the one hand in my case an inability to write a story or to draw a storyboard; but it also allows it to function in a more emblematic way of how we understand the world.

-- William Kentridge, from "How we make sense of the world"

    It is said that there are garbage people, people made of garbage, who are somehow both man and garbage -- there are pictures of them on th Internet, though those may be ph'shop'd

    ⚡If⚡ it is true, I have had th good or bad fortune of never having met one in person, which means one of thirty-three things:

  1. Garbage people are rare

  2. I haven't gotten out enough

  3. Garbage people are nice, like way nicer than regular people

  4. Hell I love everybody

  5. What if God was one of us

  6. livejournal

  7. Garbage people exist outside th range of my sense of smell

  8. I'm lying to you now

  9. It takes one to not know one

  10. When everybody's garbage, nobody's garbage

  11. Too busy being disgusted by regular people to notice garbage people

  12. Th garbage people are lying to me now

  13. Everybody is lying to me now

  14. God made garbage in his image

  15. Brag: I'm th one person who's not garbage

  16. Humblebrag: as one person close to me once said -- "MZA you have no moral compass"

  17. I met th garbage people in person and den forgot bout it

  18. Capitalism, dummy

  19. What the hell is water ?

  20. denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance

  21. liberal arts education

  22. more like denial, denial, denial, denial, denial, denial

  23. Was captured by garbage, now suffering from Stockholm syndrome

  24. Was captured by garbage, now suffering from PTSD

  25. Forgiveness & empathy are for losers

  26. Garbage is for closers

  27. You believe everything you read

  28. My mama raised me wrong

  29. My love for bullshit artists of all colours has crossed th line finally

  30. A failure to grasp th diff between garbage and bullshit

  31. Men are from garbage; women are from trash

  32. Nice try, dummy

  33. You're garbage, but you're ⚡my⚡ garbage




take two

faces of life and death

krewe of Muses parade 2014

injuns & paparazzi

July th 4th be w/ you

gator vs rabbit

rabbit vs gator

pastel injun

mane who fell to earth

So if you think of a collage as a classic 20th-century art form, where you take fragments -- a newspaper headline, a photograph, different things -- and you combine them together to make a sense -- one's very used to that as an operant -- but if you think for one instant, one understands that is the way we have to go through the world; there's no other way of going through the world. We don't have complete information; we can't take it in. We take in a fragment, a headline, a memory of a part of a dream, a phone conversation; and through this we construct what feels to us and to others as a coherent being. And one understands the self in fact is a completely provisional, fragile construction of a walking collage of thoughts and ideas ...

-- William Kentridge, from "How we make sense of the world"


ready to wear


I know that what I am asking is impossible. But in our time, as in every time, the impossible is the least that one can demand -- and one is, after all, emboldened by the spectacle of human history in general, and American Negro history in particular, for it testifies to nothing less than the perpetual achievement of the possible.

-- James Baldwin, from Th Fire Next Time

big freedia the world record breaker

It's difficult to pin down what it is that's in the mind that is different from chance; it's not like throwing the I Ching, and it's not from having a clear program; but somewhere in between is an openness to recognize something as it happens.

-- William Kentridge, from "How we make sense of the world"

    One day when I came home from work everything was yellow for no reason. There's no such thing as no reason, though. God's mind won't allow it, and neither will yrs. Jane said, "Why don't you go outside and take a picture. It'll last longer." So I did. I went outside and took a picture of God's starlight, his golden shower, and Jane was right. It did last longer ✨✨✨✨✨✨🌟

th d



bone gang 2


see you on th flip side

+ + +

Collapse )
03. RAYMOND SCOTT "Powerhouse" (6.8 MB)
02. KINKS "Days" (4.0 MB)
01. RODDY WOOMBLE "Into th Blue" (6.5 MB) -- Perhaps when people forget all bout Idlewild -- if they haven't already -- this tune will come to be heard as Woomble's signature tune, sort of like how people remember Nikola Tesla as a hair band

Bonus tracks:
BIG STAR "Thank You Friends" (4.2 MB) -- It's a no-brainer that I love you

BRIDGET ST JOHN "Goodbaby Goodbye" (2.9 MB) -- Don't take this in a weird way: I love you, and monsters are real, and they're everywhere

SLOAN "I Love a Long Goodbye" (4.3 MB) -- There's something Canadian bout this good-bye

VIRTUAL BEATLES "Goodbye" (2.9 MB) -- Some Argentines unearthed some Beatles vocal tracks and played behind them, and this is one of th recordings that resulted

JACKSON 5 "Never Can Say Goodbye" (4.0 MB) -- I don't trust Michael Jackson w/ my children. He's dead, and I have no children, and still

LEFT BANKE "Goodbye Holly" (6.7 MB) --
BARBARA LYNN "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" (5.5 MB) -- A million years is a bit long, if you ask me

BETTYE SWANN "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" (4.9 MB) -- new favourite singer, up there w/ Tammy, Phyllis, Bryan

SOLOMON BURKE "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" (3.1 MB) -- As much love as this guy gets -- and from what I can tell he gets a lot -- it's clear he'd be getting more if he'd died young in a plane crash

PM DAWN "If You Never Say Goodbye" (8.2 MB) -- If you never say good-bye you'll never be missed -- end of story

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE "Helena" (3.1 MB) -- kdollarsign, whose taste is as impenetrable as it is undeniable, gave me this. Zalamat hoe, and so long and good night, Livejournal

+ + +

    It's like yeah you don't want to be alone but yeah you ✨⚡✨are✨⚡✨ it's like yeah you want to control th light but yeah you can't

    Th light is not -- it never intended to give you th impression that it could be controlled

    And it's, light, totally rad you had to pretend not to love because it was unprofessional, but, like th light, like th light, it cannot be denied

    Because it is stretching out before you and after you like th many-legged, th millipede or what-have-you

    Th light that is stretching you inside yr body, making you conform to th shape of its love

    And it is not th stretching that hurts but rather th effort not to be stretched by it

    It had its way w/ th PEOPLE who came before you, and it will not NOT have its way after yr struggle has ended, and a new struggle is commenced in yr wake

    And den still you will find th most roundabout way of saying it


  • Current Music
    IDLEWILD "You Held th World in Yr Arms"
  • Tags

659660 thirty three public displays of nostalgia

    May I go back to telling you all about this small life, or has th Internet circus train left that station? I'm going around turning all th television sets off a minute before credits roll in an attempt to commit th world's first suicide by suspense. I cancelled my afternoon appointment so I could hallucinate to my cold medicine in private. I'm taking selfies while throwing paper money all over my face. This Internet diary entry ends w/ Allen Ezail Iverson, 40, whose eyes shoot doom and ghosts -- or does it? In th summer of 2001, Iverson captained his team, th Philadelphia 76ers, to w/in three games of winning an NBA championship, on th heels of a season in which he was voted th league's MVP. In th fall of 2010, he found himself playing for Besiktas, a Turkish Basketball League team on th second tier of European pro basketball. Lost himself, more like. A.I.'s face had long provided television viewers w/ a direct line to his heart; now his face said, "Turkey? We talkin' bout Turkey, man! I'm the turkey." He quit basketball in January of 2011 and mostly disappeared from th spotlight, surfacing for a moment in a Youtube vid sitting in a hotel parking lot looking drunk and joking about being ready to play Russian roulette w/ a fully loaded gun. In March 2014 th Sixers retired his number in a halftime ceremony during which he cupped his hand to his ear, Hulk Hogan style (minus all swagger), and den said,

    "I love you, Philadelphia. I love y'all for accepting me and letting me be me, letting me make my mistakes, letting me be human, letting me learn from 'em, just embracing me and making this my home forever."

    He was smizeless. What's home, anyhow? It's New Orleans. It's th bar where everybody knows yr name. It's th house you grew up in. It's where everybody judged you aeons ago; where you're taken for granted. It's where you're a bored child. It's th location that makes escape inevitable. It's where you escape to. It's where you're skinny in th past and fat in th future. Wherever yr porch is, you sit there and sip, sweet tea in one hand, mojito in th other, and say hi to neighbours from it. Yr dad sits w/ you and spells out truths that haven't aged a day. How men behave. How women behave. How space aliens and robots behave. Yr son sits w/ you and listens and challenges you. When it's yr time, you crawl under that same porch.

Home is where one starts from. As we grow older
The world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated
Of dead and living. Not the intense moment
Isolated, with no before and after,
But a lifetime burning in every moment
And not the lifetime of one man only
But of old stones that cannot be deciphered.

-- T.S. Eliot, from "East Coker"

    My colleague is sitting in th back seat of 葦絢扱斡梓 艶飴絢宛's car holding hands w/ me. Her fingers are long and slender, and her hand is bigger than mine and nearly as brown. This will never work out, I think. It's like holding a hairless tarantula. She is so nice, though. What does working out mean anyhow ? Not much. Enjoy this. Th car pulls up to th Prytania, which is hosting a one-time screening of Inside Out (Pete Docter & Ronaldo Del Carmen 2015), Rocky Horror style, w/ employees wearing mascot outfits of th Five Emotions, as a fundraiser for autism awareness in New Orleans. Inside, dozens of kids on th spectrum, some of whom I know, are wilding out in a nonviolent way, scripting and flapping, one solipsistic word salad and sensory saturation forcefield @ a time

    Th mothers are there, too, talking potty training, communication breakthroughs, and catharses; barely containing their five emotions under a 'field of non-optional magickal optimism, b.k.a. love. Another colleague strokes my chest hair and tells me of a disturbing dream she has had of pied-pipering all of our kiddos off of a cliff in Brighton. This is sexual harassment, I think, I'm going to let it slide this time, but if it happens again I'm going to send a strongly-worded text msg punctuated w/ th Easter Island emoji

    Two of my kiddos, 7 and 11, go up to the balcony, each w/ his own unshareable agenda, as autistic kids do. I follow them up there. "You guys know how to slapbox?" Of course they don't. It is an important skill to learn, to defend oneself from th bullies in this world, especially th ones who try to exploit you because you're weird and in yr own unshareable world. Randolph, 11, keeps Riley, 7, @ bay w/ a long slap jab. @ work I have been teaching Randolph th rules (and exceptions) of respect for personal space; his jab is a flawless extension of that lesson. Riley and I have been working on better engagement w/ peers; I want him to slip under th jab and work th body. He ducks into a crouch and den springs up w/ an invisible slap uppercut that sends Randolph cartoon-airborne. "Finish him", I holler. A car alarm sounds in th distance

*poke*round th corner

    Just den my wife walks in.

    "My work is not this violent usually", I say.
    "Mario, that sounds like your car"

    I run out to th parking lot. A Filipino man is exiting th driver's side of my car. I run, glancing in th driver's side window as I pass th car. My camera's body is sitting on th front passenger seat; its lens has been removed. I chase th flippy into a storefront across th street, through a shell curtain, and kick open a pair of saloon doors that open into a storage area where four older flippies are sitting around a card table playing mahjong. "Wherrre's dat ffflippy", I growl. One of th four, a fat woman w/ Eskimo hair, answers in Tagalog,

    "[He's not here]"
    "Oh so you do know him"
    "[Of course we know him, he's our nephew]"
    "Where is he, don't lie to me, I can see yr soul"
    "[We don't know where he went. He comes and goes without kissing our cheeks. He is a disappointing boy. Hooked on dat shabu. People change, but you know some people never do. Now he has fallen in love with a white woman, for whom he steals]"
    "He have a telephone ? Gimme his number"

    I dial

    "Halo ? Yeah Paolo this is yr worst nightmare speaking. You are a disgrace to yr whole extended family. You have no home anymore. That lens you stole? It is on a wireless network w/ my right eye. I can see yr bae now. She is not that cool or good-looking, which you will realize once you get sober. Yeah I can help you w/ that. I'm a behaviour therapist. You got my number. I don't sleep for long"

    Th titas and titos sneak up behind me and dump a tank of icy Gatorade on my back. Tita Eski hands me a Confederate flag towel and offers me her seat @ th table. I protest,

    "It has been a while since I played mahjong, Tita, I'd slow everybody down"

    She smiles

    "[Does it look like we're in a hurry?]"

    And that is how I finally made frenz in New Orleans

Real recognize real

Two years ago, I was afraid of wanting anything. I figured wanting would lead to trying, and trying would lead to failure, but now I find I can't stop wanting. I want to fly somewhere in first-class. I want to travel to Europe on a business trip. I want to get invited to the White House. I want to learn about the world. I want to surprise myself. I want to be important. I want to be the best person I can be. I want to define myself, instead of having others define me. I want to win and have people be happy for me. I want to lose and get over it. I want to not be afraid of the unknown. I want to grow up to be generous and big-hearted, the way that people have been with me. I want an interesting and surprising life. It's not that I think I'm gonna get all these things. I just want the possibility of getting them. College represents possibility. The possibility that things are gonna change. I can't wait.

-- Tyra Colette as written by Elizabeth Heldens, Friday Night Lights, Season 3, Episode 12, "Underdogs"

    There's a numerical tipping point. You look @ yr age number; you look @ th age numbers of yr dad's dead brothers. You say, numerically speaking, probabilistically speaking, I got more life behind me than ahead of me. College ain't but hoes and bros. Peggy Lee and Nancy Sinatra get less funny and more like prophets of sad -- enemies of faith. Yup, Lee and Sinatra used to be yr cool, older, truth-spitting sisters. Now that you're their age, you have to murder their truths to stay alive. Is that all there is to a fire? Naw, dat ain't fire; y'ain't seen no fire. Y'want a fire, come @ me, bro

my brather from anather father

    How do you afford your rock'n'roll lifestyle? You pay for it in youth dollars, and as youth gets more expensive, yr splurges on rock'n'roll catharsis become fewer and further between. San Mateo's Th Mummies retired for good, God bless 'em, after a lifetime of acknowledging that they were already dead, which acknowledgment cleared psychic space for them to rock w/ as much abandon as anyone has rocked w/. Ah never saw 'em, and still ah'm gettin' nostalgic. When th rock used to rock, you know. Former prom queens and high school quarterbacks know what I'm talkin' bout. Remember how great el jay was ? People my age and a bit older and a bit younger are dodging nostalgia traps wherever they look, no matter what screen is before them; it's like Mario and his fireball chains and spinning blades -- here come weapons of mad nostalgia to slice th present and future to useless decontextualized ribbons #tbt

You are th loves of my lives

    “koff koff koff KOFF   This cough is outrageous. Ah'm a-get outraged by this cough th way liberals on my news feed get outraged by Chick-fil-A.”
    “That cough's crazy. What are you gonna do?”
    “Tweet about it.”
    “I was gonna say, if it's bothering you that much, maybe you should tweet about it.”
    “If this cough keep going th way it's going, ah'm a-have to get on and start a petition against it. Did you know, if y'get 100,000 signatures, it has to cross th president's desk.”
    “No, it's 100,000.”
    “What did I say.”
    “I thought you said 1,000.”
    “Nah. 100,000.”
    “Wouldn't it be funny if it were only 1,000? His desk would be covered with -- ”
    “Fedoras. His desk would be covered w/ shitty fedoras.”
    “ -- long excerpts from Atlas Shrugged. What if the 'Thanks, Obama' people are right, and President Obama really was born outside of America, and he did this whole thing just so he could have sex w/ Beyoncé?”
    “This a crazy world, baby. A lot of crazy things happen in it.”
    “I feel like wanting to do it w/ Beyoncé is one of the less crazy things.”
    “Yeah you right.”
    “Although becoming leader of the free world just to do that might be a bit -- ”
    “ -- sociopathic ? Yeah.”

Paz Nelly

This was on a hot day in August 2005, and the heat exacerbated the musty odor of the glue of old French books bringing on powerful olfactory nostalgia. I usually succeed in repressing such nostalgic excursions, but not when they sneak up on me as music or smell. The odor of Mandelbrot's books was that of French literature, of my parents' library, of the hours spent in bookstores and libraries when I was a teenager when many books around me were (alas) in French, when I thought that Literature was above anything and everything.

-- Nassim Nicholas Taleb, The Black Swan: the Impact of the Highly Improbable (253)

    Listen w/ one ear to th screen. This planet is in th middle of a nostalgic moment. What are climate change activists but Luddites who ride fixed-gear covered wagons and collect vintage photographs of garbage-free oceans and non-melting ice caps? Th planet was so much cooler back den, wasn't it? What are social justice warriors but foetuses who missed th civil rights movement th first time around and now are determined to remix it w/ tighter beats, nerdier language, less consensus, more powerful tech, and greater corporate sponsorship? Baby boomers are so gross, aren't they? Let's do what they did, except this time let's get it right and do it from our phones. These civil rights reenactors' hearts are in th right places -- on their sleeves. Wanna know how much they hate capitalism? Check their sleeves. How much they love black people and hate cops? Check their record collections. Occupy their browser histories if you want to measure th dimensions of their love and hate. Google only knows. They rent in black neighbourhoods when they're young, broke, and idealistic. Their presence and buying habits drive property values up. They move, and wherever they move, there goes th neighbourhood. They'll be back when they have kids, by which time it'll be a white neighbourhood. W/ enemies like these, white supremacists (who are in th middle of a nostalgic moment of their own) don't need friends.

    None of this has anything to do w/ you and me, though. You're no SJW. I'm no white supremacist. Those are words explainers use to simplify an inscrutable causal chain that reaches back to before anybody walked on two legs. If we're not mothers and fathers, we're sons and daughters of mothers and fathers; and this is th loop in which we have all been caught. Th South does not exist. White people do not exist. Filipinos do not exist. Capitalism itself does not exist. We're pixels on God's Game Boy, and th game is to be, or not to be. Do suicide, or do not suicide. Make an imperfect copy of yrself, or make no copy of yrself. Build a monument to yrself that will last 1,000 years; 400 years; 100 years; no years; or until yr hosting service expires. Upload yr consciousness to heaven, or drag it to th recycle bin -- no backups, no nothin'. Th Buddhists look like tools for trying to flip th script on th cycle of suffering and desire. 3D-print some babbies, or don't. There is no try. We don't have children for any reason that's not make-believe. We don't love for a reason or make friends for a reason, not real friends. Pixels form shapes; shapes make games; and nothing worth doing has a reason behind it. There's no such thing as good old days or bad old days. It's chaotic old days all th way home. To admit that is to discover th antidote for nostalgia -- that and having children


Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable

-- Khalil Gibran, from Th Prophet (17)

    Yup, Mum and Pop traded nostalgia for a diff brand of suffering: worrying bout their kiddos' futures. My brothers and I were great content providers for that worry, too: between hilarious (in retrospect) psychotic breaks w/ consensus reality; lesser manic depressive episodes; extended bouts of unemployment; totalled family autos; an interminable bachelorhood (by flippy standards); one nasty head injury; one near-death of a spouse; some dating choices of questionable wisdom (and their resulting soap operatic outcomes); a bottomless supply of harsh confrontations from Son #1 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯; sudden decisions to pick up and move to other states, coasts, and a famous Pacific island; bad haircuts; and th usual potpourri of adolescent horseshit all parents have to negotiate; we served 'em a solid menu of classic child-parent entrées. Not that Mum and Pop had much choice in th matter, but they lived to tell bout it; and we never got one atom of an impression that they found any of th three of us less than loveable. If people have to go to therapy for accumulating too much unconditional love as a child, sign me up


    If I had th bread I'd do like Allen Iverson did and buy my mama a house. Did you know that Iverson's mama claimed he was born from no sexual intercourse whatsoever? Second virgin birth in history, and it didn't end in an NBA Championship. My own mother nearly became a nun as a teenager and reportedly wept when my grandfather and grandmother disallowed it. Their reason? Two of her older sisters had become nuns already. My existence dodged a bullet there; it's good to remember such things when faced w/ th temptation to wallow in good ol' days. There are innumerable good ol' days in th multiverse, and I'm not there to enjoy most of 'em


    It's this day before us now that you can touch & explore & appreciate & mourn. This screen. This city. This friend. This podcast. This love. A different segment of you is back there loving a different city. That city. That love. All nostalgia is is failed time travel. You're back there, and you're up ahead. Let th you that's there mourn and exalt that day. Trust th you that's there. It's his day. You got yr own


    A lot of things done changed since last we liaised, el jay. I'm getting divorced and have been separated from my wife for 10 months. Probably why I haven't written -- too much reason to. Mebbe why I'm typing bout nostalgia now, if you need a reason. I don't, not today, and that's what makes it a pleasure rather than a job. Oh, I got a job. Now I work w/ autistic children -- names & details have been altered here to comply w/ th professional ethical code. My own personal code prevents me from dissecting too hard what it is I enjoy so much bout this job; should you meet me for a drink I'll take a stab @ it, though

    Speaking of time travel, a couple summers ago I officiated my BFF's wedding. It was around this time that my own marriage seemed to be reaching for new lows, rockier rocks, and meaner things-already-said. It's peculiar, then, now, how hopeful and steadfast and stable my faith in love appears to be, as if it is a force acting from w/o, impervious to internal valleys, internal rocks, internal meanness:

    Dearly beloved, it's nice to see you. It's especially nice to join forces w/ you in order to recognize, bless, admire, and announce to Planet Earth th union of two of its most loveable inhabitants: Jacob and Shannon. Today is a one-of-a-kind day. Shannon and Jacob, although you aren't th first two people in th universe to get married, you are th only people ever to get married today in this house. Think about that. This location in spacetime –- powered by Jacob's love for Shannon past, present, and future; Shannon's love for Jacob past, present, and future; amplified by y'all, their home court of friends and family; filtered through th ritual magick we call “a wedding” –- this location becomes th vessel for all that has been, is, and will be good and holy throughout history. Visualize this room as a record player spinning nothing but th hit singles & selected b-sides of our collective experience of love & family. Th most heroic rescues made possible by love & family; th timely shoves out of th way of th speeding bus of human sadness & meaninglessness and into th arms of love & family; th funniest, stupidest jokes generated by love & family; th underappreciated quiet interludes of love & family –- all of these are present today in this room, reminders that we didn't come into this world under our own power, and that we need one another. In other words, for those who like to get emotional @ weddings: pick any angle. Hell, pick all of 'em. There's a surplus.

    Of course, a marriage is not a sacred thing, and thank God for that. A marriage throws itself into cloud after cloud of everyday life's dirt –- money & sex; strange moods; telepathy gone awry; th aftermath of loss; th news –- but that's all right. A marriage gets dirty, and it takes a hot bath. A marriage spits a string of strong words that may or may not get spelled out w/ pound signs, dollar signs, percent symbols, & exclamation marks –- and afterwards all is calm because yr husband knows as close to everything about you as anyone ever will, and you don't faze him. Th hot bath is togetherness. It's admitting that even if you could walk th dog by yrself if you wanted to, you don't want to. It's visualizing a futuristic person who's half you and half yr wife, and thinking, “Hmm hmm, all right.” Th hot bath is being freaked out about not being freaked out about it.

    But that's th meal, and for th most part Shannon and Jacob have to consume that meal, as all married couples do, in private. Today's about saying grace before th meal. Today we're in here, and th dirt & crime & smallness of mind & th news are out there, locked out, so that we may pay attention to this moment and allow this moment to stretch out to th right and to th left of us, as in Michael Burns' poem, into an indefinite distance. Visualize two figures, one w/ long hair and one w/ short hair, and two empty speech balloons emanating from their respective heads. Draw a rectangle around th two figures. Th figures aren't saying anything @ th moment because they're listening because this is th part of th ceremony where th minister's talking. Now picture another panel to th right of that one, containing th same two figures, moments from now. One is saying, “I do” or something to that effect. Th other is saying, “I do, too”. Picture another panel *here* in th near distance containing two figures and a third smaller figure whose face is a synthesis of th two bigger figures' faces. Behold, miles beyond that panel, another panel in which th two figures have grown old together, and beyond that, panels in which first one figure and then th other go off-panel for one last time. Th story doesn't end there. Zipping back in th opposite direction, th figures grow young together and eventually separate. They haven't met yet. One is snail-mailing a letter to th other. And what we're doing today is squeezing every scene into this scene, this moment, like an accordion, and also pulling this moment apart, like paper dolls, such that what we see before us are not only one Shannon and one Jacob, but all of them. What we see are giant forces @ work upon us. Whether they be natural, social, divine, or magickal forces, they're bigger and stronger than all of us. We see that in light of giant chaotic forces, our love has no choice but to be whole-hearted, supernatural, and timeless. Jacob and Shannon, it's gonna be a good day. It is a good day. It was a good day. Do you get loved? ******SPOILER******: you do.


    Naturally, against my judgment, I feel nostalgick for that wedding day, th last day all of my closest friends were in one room. I allow myself to feel feelings bout th closeness and distance of th Internet in its legion of demonic shapes -- Instagram, Twitter, godforsaken FB, as far as th eye can see. My telephone becomes th true ball & chain. Every Internet embrace slips away, one by one, as images replace memories

Rome outdoors

    Th center does not host. Th dive bars redecorate

Kirsten van der ____

    Th West, th Midwest, and th East merge into one undifferentiated North, relative to New Orleans


    Th sweethearts stay sweet, unburdened by forgotten soap operatics, attaining narrative symmetry via minimalist fiction


    High fives are denied ...... forever


Pop culture has entered into a nostalgic malaise. Online culture is dominated by trivial mashups of the culture that existed before the onset of mashups, and by fandom responding to the dwindling outposts of centralized mass media. It is a culture of reaction without action.

-- Jaron Lanier, from You Are Not a Gadget (20)

    A game of continuous self-distraction threatens to replace conscious creation of meaning. If religion is anything we permit ourselves not to question, everyone's religious. No one's losing their religion. One barters one religion for another. Trauma echoes from coast to coast as if by wormhole, each manifestation unaware of its remote twin: I am getting divorced; unbeknownst to me, you are getting divorced in a different city @ th same time. Or you're making imperfect, hella cute copies of yrself. I'm updating my Internet diary for th first time in two years

Rome Boobzone




    You're still dead, and I'm still making flawless make-believe copies of you that move & speak exactly like you, because that was how you decided to reproduce


    Allen Iverson gets a year closer to his trust fund, which his lawyer set up to prevent A.I. from launching his millions all @ once into th black hole that is his need to get loved. This Earth is doomed;


and I live in th most nostalgic, most backward-facing city in America; a town that recycles its own traditions w/ unquestioning, irrational overconfidence; whose citizens permit themselves to forget that these traditions are th walking dead; where babbies learn to play Dixieland, and Dixieland dodges collection by th Grim Reaper one babby @ a time;


where we can never not remember how close we are to being underwater, th new Atlantis -- thanks, global warming -- thanks, Obama -- thanks, Allen Iverson -- we sittin' here, and there's a disappearing coastline, and we in here talkin' bout practice;

Diego not havin it



Pop 2014


and mebbe I'll still be here as an old man on my boathouse waxing nostalgic w/ my old roommate glazomaniac bout a NOLA that was on land; and mermaids will march in Mardi Gras; only locals will be able to tell th diff between them and th scuba divers in mermaid costumes



    Good ol' A.I. will be on his deathbed practicing saying th names of his many children and his children's children, as an incantation against narcissism, nostalgia, & humanity's extinction. We were smart enough to invent language, and we were smart enough to use it to make poems & science fiction. Nobody has been smart enough to harness language's magickal properties to reverse our habitat's destruction or facilitate an FTL exodus to another habitable planet. Th suspense is uninhabitable


Number 4

boys read

Hey mon

    ⚡⚡⚡ Messiah Lauren Iverson, Isaiah Rahsaan Iverson, Allen Iverson II, Tiaura Iverson, Dream Alijha Iverson, Allen Iverson III, Éamon Blaze Iverson, Skully Mulder Iverson, Walden Klark Kent Iverson, Dikembe Usain Almigh-T Bolt Iverson, ​Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Iverson, Björk Vondecarlo Perla Chascarillo Iversdóttir, Gilbert George Herriman Iverson, Sir Charles Shuttlesworth Iverson, Alice Practice Morticia "Tish" Iverson, Summer Olivia Bae Iverson ⚡⚡⚡

babby faces

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Collapse )
03. RAYMOND SCOTT "Powerhouse" (6.8 MB)
02. KINKS "Days" (4.0 MB) -- One of Earth's top if not th top nostalgic song(s). Listened to 10,000x on a beat-up cassette.

Bonus tracks:
KINKS "I'll Remember" (3.4 MB) -- Not th literal B-side of "Days", th psychic one.

JOHN PARISH & PJ HARVEY "Is That All There Is?" (7.1 MB) -- No sense of humour, this one.

BUZZCOCKS "Nostalgia" (4.0 MB) -- Synopsis of complex feelings bout Captain Picard.

658660 my dream job

      My cousin and I couldn't stop doing or selling drugs. Th police would come over to my cousin's house and arrest us both; and as soon as th police were gone, my cousin and I would break out all of our drugs and start doing or selling them again. It was house arrest. It seemed as if every time our parole officers stopped by my cousin's house, my cousin and I'd be in th middle of a transaction or a high. Sometimes we wouldn't wait for th police to leave th premises before recidivating. We'd hear their police cars backing out of my cousin's driveway, and we'd get back to business. Sometimes we'd do or sell drugs while we were still in cuffs, if th officer looked away for a moment -- or while he or she was filling out our paperwork in th breakfast nook. If th cop happened to look up from his or her paperwork while we were doing that, my cousin and I would have to get arrested again, which led to more paperwork and more recidivism.

      It was in this way that my criminal record grew to several pages long in a short period of time. I'd be in bed doing or selling drugs when cops would bust in and ask me what I thought I was doing. Nothing, I'd say. Oh yeah? they'd reply, lifting up my pillow to reveal drugs and a detailed ledger of illicit revenue. Den what's this? They'd lengthen my sentence on th spot. A couple minutes later, on days that weren't lucky, they'd bust me again. One of them had left her police hat on my bed by accident and had popped back in to get it, for instance.

      When business was slow, my cousin and I would buy drugs from each other. We didn't care if our nephews or nieces were present, watching Cars 2 or learning to walk or whatever. If those babbies had had any money or drugs, we'd no doubt have tried to do business w/ them, too. That's how addicted to doing and selling drugs we were. Th dollar signs we saw in each other's eyes might've been hallucinations from designer psychedelics; it's difficult to say for certain. Rock bottom? That might've been th sting operation. A police officer who'd posed as a customer put me and my cousin under house arrest and den returned later in th day to try to buy more drugs from us. My cousin was furious w/ me for failing to recognize th guy th second time around. In my defense, th dude looked totally different in uniform. They say our criminal justice system is broken, but I never understood quite what they meant until I was in th thick of it my own self.

My impulse is to break the windows of Starbucks, but I’d get arrested if I did that, so I make comics about people breaking the windows of Starbucks.

-- Ben Katchor, interview on Virtual Memories podcast, 15 April 2013

my favourite picture from Mardi Gras
10 Feb 2013, Krewe of Bacchus parade, NOLA

outtake from th great eye contact wars of 2013
12 Feb 2013 (Mardi Gras Day), Krewe of Zulu parade, NOLA

a cat and his voodoo doll, no doubt
27 Jan 2013, Uptown, NOLA

      "Mario? You all right?"
      "Yeah. Bad dream."
      "Whenever you wake up, it's like you're escaping the Matrix."
      "Oh, you like that. You think I'm a funny wife."
      "Whenever I wake up? Or only when you wake me up, against my will ?"
      "It happens all the time. You go, 'BUH', like you just dodged a bullet by leaning backwards."

      There's something bad on th tip of my brain -- yr brain, too, probably. Name th top four things that aid mental function. Going for a walk. Joking back and forth w/ people you like. Bacon. Solitude.

      Brain blocked? See to it that you're getting those four things in sufficient quantities before concluding that you're dumb. In th absence of bacon, duck (th bacon of th air) will do. Maybe list-making will help. Make a list of things that terrify you. Be honest. Make a list of things that you say you don't fear but that, just between you and God, you do fear. Bears. That God doesn't exist. That he does exist, and he's not pleased. Bears. Death. Yr mother's death. Black teenagers in groups. Chechens. Prison. Having things shoved under yr fingernails. Having things shoved, in general. Being buried alive. Clawing @ th velvet coffin lining. Guy playing w/ a knife. Fear itself. Pissing and shitting yr pants while dangling from a rope in front of a classroom full of attractive women. Losing yr daughter in a dense crowd @ th county fair. Having a daughter. Dropping somebody else's babby while crossing a rope bridge. Getting captured by Russians (when you're a Chechen). Breaking yr nephew's back while executing a piledriver w/ incorrect form. Being anybody except yrself, all of a sudden, w/o warning. An old, discoloured, naked hunchback shuffling toward you in a narrow hallway, head tilted 90° to one side. Having no choice but to sleep under a bridge. Getting too old to walk. Robots.

Talents are best nurtured in solitude; character is best formed in the stormy billows of the world.

-- Goethe, Torquato Tasso, 1790

th day after we moved to New Orleans
7 May 2012, NOLA

      A long time ago, when we hunted, and nobody wore spectacles, people who had poor eyesight would have been less valuable to a tribe's economy, more susceptible to accidental death, and easier targets for predators. As a result, most humans now living don't have shitty eyesight. My wife wears spectacles, and I wear spectacles because our ancestors got lucky and had other skills that compensated for seeing everything blurry; or lived w/ lenient tribes; or lived in environments where seeing everything blurry wasn't a dealbreaker. So goes th story. Perhaps our eyesights aren't shitty outside of th context of a literate society. You ever wonder what yr personality would be like if nobody knew how to read? We'd like watching movies. Nobody would've made any movies, though. Nobody'd know to push record. For a long time, nobody said shit. First came grunts. Den came grammar. Th rest is history. Language existed before that, though, right? It existed as a capacity. Take th first sentence that was ever writ. Reverse-engineer dat to th first sentence that was ever spoke. Reverse-engineer dat to th first sentence that was ever thought. Reverse-engineer dat to what. A feeling. A need. A logic. A sequence of neural on-off switches. A radiation. Where was language before you used it to tell th others about th bear ? That's right. It was on ice. It was on ice in th sun. It travelled 8⅓ minutes as light and heat to get trapped in a leaf that got eaten by a deer that got hunted by you. Den it was on ice in you, who got scared by th bear. You felt th fear that thawed th ice in which all sentences had been locked away. "God damn it, guys," you said, "that bear's got knives for hands."

      Now this is where th language has taken us. My wife talks on th phone. She talks to her phone -- "Who are you?" -- and her phone parses her sounds and answers back. Soon th phone will have feelings, but today it is self-effacing: "Who I am is not important."

Economist David Autor has suggested that the first jobs to go will be middle-skill jobs. Despite impressive advances, robots still don't have the dexterity to perform many common kinds of manual labor that are simple for humans -- digging ditches, changing bedpans. Nor are they any good at jobs that require a lot of cognitive skill -- teaching classes, writing magazine articles. But in the middle you have jobs that are both fairly routine and require no manual dexterity. So that may be where the hollowing out starts: with desk jobs in places like accounting or customer support.

-- Kevin Drum, "Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don't Fire Us?", Mother Jones, May 2013

balcony overlooking Seventh & Carondelet
4 Apr 2013, NOLA

      It occurs to me in th moments immediately before and after waking up that th language does not belong to me. I'm neither its owner nor its user. I'm a custodian @ best. In th beginning was th word. Th word was made flesh on its way to becoming something else entirely. Chrome and electricity come next; and if there's something else after that, ah won't be around to see it. Th word has been my custodian and my cargo. It is about to disembark and transfer to a speedier ride to godliness. Good luck, cruel word.

4 Mar 2013, Moss Beach, CA

      In 1988 @ th end of School Daze, Laurence Fishburne is hollering, "Wake up!" to a college campus full of sleepy black students, professors, and administrators. Eleven years later in Th Matrix, Fishburne is hollering th same exhortation @ a tentative messiah named Keanu Reeve. On a steamy July day in 2013, Fishburne appears to me in th flames of a gas stove to debate th future of humanity. He's a good deal more pessimistic than he was in th films. Now he says that every time he wakes up or wakes other people up, what they are waking up into is a higher level of th same video game.

      "Is that so bad?" I ask. "I mean, we're adding skills each time, @ least, aren't we."
      "We are adding skills, or th machines are?"
      "Ah, that's right. You don't see th machines as extensions of ourselves."
      "Let's just say that th last few years of witnessing human beings kowtowing lower and lower before devices that aren't even intelligent yet has diminished my faith."
      "Look how much we are talking to one another, though. Human beings, I mean."
      "Consider th quality of those conversations. Consider th outcomes of those conversations. On Facebook, agreeing to disagree has been inflated into a positive outcome."
      "Well, it ain't like conversations in person are infused w/ magickal harmony. Wait, you're on FB?"
      "Conversations in person benefit from th assumption that you're not supposed to say everything that's on yr mind. That's a good thing. And eye contact, which does have magickal powers."
      "I'm not afraid of everything that's on everyone's minds; are you? You're black. What if MLK hadn't broadcast everything that was on his mind to th Internet?"
      "Dr King was a great man. However, no man is great enough not to be absorbed by th Internet rabble and spat out as a toothless meme."
      "That's harsh, Larry. You people have come a long way since th civil rights movement."
      "You people? I have come a long way. I have wealth. I am one of th top three magick negroes in th game. But ask yrself: where does this leave all of th non-magick negroes?"
      "President Obama. Will Smith. Morgan Freeman. That puts you @ #4."
      "Let's agree to disagree."
      "Let's agree to agree that human beings matter. That humanity deserves a shot @ continued evolution. That superheroes were an aspirational invention: versions of ourselves that might yet be."
      "Mario, I do not believe in Keanu Reeve anymore."
      "Yeah, yeah, he doesn't exist yet. That's what evolution's for."
      "Evolution? Don't get me wrong; my take on all of this is that human psychology and behaviour are mutable. But they are sticky."
      "Evolution is too slow for you, you mean."
      "Too slow to keep pace w/ cultural and technological progress. Think of culture as a pair of pants. Think of technology as ... technology."
      "All right, we're cavemen in pants playing w/ tricorders."
      "Precisely. We have th emotions of cavemen. Th fight-or-flight response of cavemen. Th cognitive blinkers. Th tribal instinct. Th lust. Why? Because a couple million years of evolved adaptations have made th caveman a grandmaster @ fulfilling th prime directive --"
      "-- which is to fuck around on th Internet."
      "Which is to fuck, period. To replicate. People who don't make more of themselves not only don't pass on their genes, they don't pass on their ways of being."
      "Except for inventors, lawmakers, artists ..."
      "Naturally. It's not unusual to replicate oneself through technological, legal, or artistic influence. Most influencers, though, are only repeating or @ best remixing ideas that are already powerful in th culture, so it's all a wash. We live in interesting times, technology-wise, because any idea can go viral. But viral-ness defeats itself because it depends on our seeing ideas as cheap, disposable, and fungible."
      "You see no good future for us?"
      "Not exactly. Everything good about us will be absorbed by th machines. Our programs. Our souls, if you prefer."
      "I don't. My body means a lot to me."
      "That's unfortunate, given how temporary it is. Wasn't living forever th whole point of getting close to God? What difference does it make if heaven's in th cloud?"
      "Larry, m'dog, you're th one who's supposed to be waging th war against th machines for th preservation of human independence and beauty."
      "I surrendered to a higher power, dog. It was a bitter pill to swallow. But it beats watching reruns of human history for another million years."

Right now, he points out, everyone is born with an endowment of labor by virtue of having a body and a brain that can be traded for income. But what to do when that endowment is worth a fraction of what it is today? Smith's suggestion: "Why not also an endowment of capital? What if, when each citizen turns 18, the government bought him or her a diversified portfolio of equity?"

-- Kevin Drum, quoting from Noah Smith's "The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers from the Rise of Robots"

I had to look up th difference between seals and sea lions AGAIN
4 Mar 2013, Moss Beach, CA

      Which is a roundabout way of telling you that I'm looking for a new job

my natural birthday
16 Mar 2013, Audubon Park, NOLA

and thet ah'll do most things that don't involve sitting @ a desk and perhaps a few things that do. Dogwalking and dealing drugs were a blast while they lasted. This morning, a guy who looked like a fat Chris Webber walked his pit bull down St Charles and talked to his robot earpiece: "You're not hearing me, B. I've killed more people than I'm related to." That was th last straw. Th business has gotten too ugly to love. Please advise yr mum thet ah'm looking for a new career. Something that involves

Somebody opened a door to th outside while I was taking these photographs
4 Mar 2013, Musée Mécanique, San Francisco

disappearing for long stretches of time, and resurfacing w/ th whole crime solved. Something that involves reassuring people that their existence, accident though it might be, is definitely their fault. Nah, th opposite of that. Something about examining clients' social media history and locating all of th Cylons that have covertly been wreaking havoc in their lives. Something w/ writing impassioned letters to Congressmen and other people who appear to be in power. Something that starts @ 7:00 a.m. and ends @ 4:00 p.m. Something that starts @ 4:00 p.m. and never ends. Something to do w/ going to strangers' houses and hereby giving them th authority to watch Th Sopranos @ will. Something that involves wrapping boxes in duct tape. A cross between a plumber and a clergyman. A cross between a hitman and a paramedic. Something where I'm rewarded for never telling th truth. Where my colleagues take off their shirts w/ impunity and are sweaty but aren't penetrating one another. In which all incoming mail is deleted by my robot servant. A baker. A farmer. A guy who repairs walkmans. A walkman. Hey,

He said, “Yeah, well, when you first start writing songs, or when you first start a band, all your songs sound really angry because that’s before you realize everything’s your fault.”

-- Mac McCaughan, interview on A.V. Club, 19 August 2013

27 Jan 2013, Krewe of King Arthur parade, NOLA

it's a bird. It's a plane. It's a living

pigeon infestation as seen from our sun room
6 May 2013, NOLA

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Collapse )
03.  RAYMOND SCOTT "Powerhouse" (6.8 MB) -- a song about humans who emulate machines in order to bring home th bacon they need to be strong in body & mind so that they might better emulate machines

Bonus tracks:
CARL STALLING PROJECT "Powerhouse and Other Cuts from th Early '50s" (8.6 MB) -- a song about drawing pictures of animals who emulate humans who emulate machines

TH MAKES NICE "Dear John" (4.2 MB) -- a song about how breaking up is fun to do

657660 How to make love to thirty-three famous women and not die

      The first trick is to stay alive for 40 years. Do not under any circumstance commit suicide; succumb to a terminal illness; drive an automobile by carelessness over a sheer cliff; or get murdered by a thief, disgruntled loner, enemy combatant, or jealous spouse. Begin making love to famous women when you turn 14. Fourteen years allows more than enough time to enjoy a normal childhood and to build up the volume of lust required to sustain a serious pursuit of famous women's love over the course of a quarter of a century. Making love to 1.269 famous women per year for the next 26 years yields a total of 33 famous women made love to (FWMLT) by age 40. Advanced students have been well capable of surpassing that number in a far shorter timespan, at the expense of a declining capacity to experience psychic intimacy with each lover. It depends on what you're into, really.

      "I had a bad dream about you."
      "We had a very long sofa which we slept on opposite sides of. One night you wanted to have sex, but I was too sleepy. In the morning you said, 'I had sex.'"
      "I said it just like that? I had sex."
      "Yes, you were angry. And I said, 'What do you mean you had sex?' And you said you had gone to the other side of the sofa and had had sex with another person. That's how long the sofa was. It didn't even wake me up."
      "That is a long sofa."
      "Don't try to do that in real life, all right?"
      "Don't worry. Defying th laws of physics is against my upbringing."

      Of course I'm depressed. Or was, until about a week ago, at which point the cloud lifted with no warning -- as mysteriously as it had descended -- after a month of ceaseless dark weather. Of course it was about NOLA and about capitalism, love, and suicide. Today's Mothers' Day. Three suspects opened fire on a Mothers' Day second-line parade, injuring 19, and even the people who are surprised are not that surprised. I don't care, because I don't know the people who got shot, because I have been successful at not making friends in New Orleans, which success might on its own explain my depression. There's nothing extraordinary about any of this. Were I more practiced at being depressed, April could have been just another stupid and uneventful month in my life. Instead, Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine is almostly certainly dead, and I am the one who almost certainly killed him.

      It started in 1973 when my mother 3D-printed a baby, thereby creating a unpayable debt. Never mind for a moment that neither she nor my father expected anything from the baby in return. Never mind that existence is a gift that tends to be repaid to future offspring. They gave the child piano lessons and soccer seasons. They sent him to a private school. "All we want is for you to be happy," they said. Never tell that to a child without also providing a strict definition of happiness. He will spend the rest of his life believing that he owes you a reflection of a shadow of a fast-moving cloud. Nobody is to blame for depression except for you, your parents, God, the American healthcare system, your spouse, your pet, the president, social media employees (That's me and you and everyone we know.), capitalism generally, and anyone or anything that gets on your nerves. It's nobody else's business.

      Some people sleep when they're depressed, or drink, or have sex with other depressed people. Others commit acts of terrorism or never leave the Internet. Others pour themselves into their work or into prostitutes (that they found on the Internet). Some people play ABBA only when they're depressed, while others play anything but ABBA. Some people look exactly the same when they're depressed and when they're not depressed. Look around: anybody could be a Cylon. Writers who get writer's block get writer's block. Comedians who get funnier get funnier. Addicts get dead. That it's important to have one word that encompasses any of these symptoms means that we're all deep down the same, or that we're being marketed to. You seem depressed. Whoever can sell you a cure that works well enough that you can go to work and make more money to buy more of the cure -- though not so well that you never want the cure again -- is a rich man; and a rich man has so many cures available for his own depression that he never has to wonder whether any of them work. Y'ever get the feeling y'been cheated? Y'ever get the feeling that placebos grow on trees?

Web ads are tested by getting people to click on ads for a free personality test and then giving them a personality test with your political ad along the side and asking them some political questions. (Ever see ads for a free personality test? That's what they really are. Everybody turns out to have the personality of a sparkle fish, which is nice and pleasant except when it meets someone it doesn't like ...)

-- Aaron Swartz, technology freedom activist (and depressed person), excerpt from a letter to Cory Doctorow on how to win an election on a low budget

      Of course, the trouble with depressed people is not that they are sparkle fish. It is easy enough for a depressed person to avoid or limit contact with people he doesn't like. The trouble is that he is incomplete without people he doesn't like. The trouble is that a person who's nice and pleasant -- who's invested in being seen as nice and pleasant -- lives in denial of the dark half of his nature. Children are monsters half of the time because they haven't mastered hiding their dark halves. Evil exists. Satan is real. Powerful people often appear to be more evil than powerless people in the same way that pit bulls appear to be more evil than pomeranians, which doesn't mean that a pomeranian wouldn't shake a baby to death if it could, which is why revolutions have always tended to lead to despotism. That there's a bell curve for evil doesn't mean that evil doesn't exist at every point on the curve, or that most of the world's evil isn't perpetrated by those in the thick middle. When anyone tells you different, that the world's evil is primarily the domain of tail-dwellers -- the desperate and mentally ill on the left, the callous and Machiavellian on the right -- that means you're being marketed to. Your vote is being courted. Jesus didn't say, "Don't have enemies" or "Befriend your enemies." He recognized the inevitability and necessity of enemies. "But I say unto you," he said unto us,

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you ...

-- which ought to be easier for a person who has admitted how frequently he has been his own worst enemy.

      Speaking of worst enemies, anyone who asks me about Kevin Shields in person will receive the same lie: "He escaped." The truth is that I released him into the wild, knowing that the probability of his finding his way back to me would be next to nil. The truth is that my setting him free was probably a death sentence. He knows how to kill, but we were associates for 16 years; now he's old and soft. I released him into the wild on a sunny Saturday a.m., and that night a violent thunderstorm hit New Orleans. He hid in a storm drain until he realized that that was where all the water went, whereupon he decided to move to the under-porch area of a rich family's house, somewhere Uptown. There was another feral cat taking shelter under there. They fought. Kevin slew his enemy. He spent a noisy, wet, sleepless, hungry night under the porch, unfazed by the corpse of his enemy. In the morning, the rich family fed him real tuna. He thought he would stay with that family, until he met their dog, a rottweiler who was hostile to him. They fought. Kevin slew his enemy and ran away. He moved from house to house, having to slay any hostile pet or stray who challenged him, subsisting on verminflesh, scavenged human leftovers, and the occasional charitable tin of real tuna. He became again a wild and conscienceless thing with no voice, his memory of me reduced to an identifying scent whose owner he swore he would slay if their paths crossed. Let's be real. He starved to death or was slain by a larger predator. He got depressed and ran under a car. He got captured by an animal control officer and put on death row. He got a job at Schrödinger's. He decided to be female again. She went back to her planet and reclaimed her slave name: "Heaven". Nothing's funny. It doesn't matter why I did it. It doesn't matter if I'm lying to you about my depression. As long as depression's a valid excuse for destructive behaviour; as long as depression's a valid excuse for reflexive avoidance of unpleasant realities; the world's evil can't decrease. In other words, as long as depression is the enemy, to love one's enemy is a non sequitur. Said Momus,

Every lie creates a parallel world -- the world in which it's true.

As luck would have it, this version of me doesn't live in the world where I'm a good guy beset by evil forces. In this world, the good and the bad sleep in the same bed.

th world where you're a medium evil person

      The trouble is that a human is an ant as much as he is a sparkle fish; and as E.O. Wilson put it, "An ant alone is no ant." As pleasant as he might be in his own castle; surrounded by furnishings of his own choosing; playing a playlist shuffled from a handpicked selection of 30,000 songs; reading only articles that might reflect his own beliefs back at him; in short, being both the projector and audience of his own movie; a human being alone is no human. He approaches his full human potential only through a continual exposure of his clean self-image to the dirt of other people.

      Ah, but you have your depression, and I have mine, and let's not let language fool us: we might not be talking about the same thing. You sleep. I get up in the middle of the night and pace. You see a therapist. You vent and then announce that you were just venting. I adjust my diet to include more protein and fat. You run a 5K. You buy a sexy automobile. You recline on the couch and play first-person shooters. I take my cat for a long walk off a short pier. Our solutions are destined to have nothing in common. It might be that depression as a concept has outlived its usefulness. We might as well call it "that which stops us from making the necessary changes". Fourteen syllables. My advice is useless to you, except for this: whatever you do, don't forget to make love to famous women. This is not a euphemism for masturbation. An image must never be mistaken for a woman -- not even an iconic image, especially not an iconic image. I've made a list of 33 iconic women to help you identify what a famous woman might look like in the wild, but ultimately you'll have to trust your own judgment:

  1. Martina Topley-Bird (7 May 1975 - )
    CLICK for evil

          When you spot a famous woman in person, make love to her by any means necessary, in a manner that will satisfy both of you to your cores. Do not hesitate. Do not inundate her with minutiae concerning your more arcane or boring interests. Do not let her bore you with her minutiae. Do not act as if she is a space alien from a more advanced planet, unless you are from that planet, too. Do not pour your thoughts and feelings out like water from a tap, as poor Alfred no doubt did. Who values tap water? Let her discover your heart and mind at her own pace. She will be thankful to have met such a judicious individual.

  2. Rosemary Elizabeth "Posy" Simmonds, MBE (9 Aug 1945 - )
    CLICK for bookflap headshot

          It doesn't matter if you have not heard of her or are unfamiliar with her work. She is famous. It is possible that she has been knighted by the Queen of England, or that she is the Queen of England. What've you done that might stack up to her accomplishments? Probably nothing. Nevertheless, in order to make love to the Queen of England, you have to act as if you're the Queen of England, too. Or the King of England. Whichever.

  3. Lena Herzog (1970 - )

          A lot of times, a famous woman is married to a man who is even more famous. Do not let this fact undermine your love for her work or her way of looking at the universe. Moreover, do not let the existence of her famous husband (or your admiration for his work and his way of looking at the universe) stop you from making sweet love to his wife. It doesn't matter whether you're physically attracted to her or to women generally. You must not let this opportunity to get loved by a famous woman who has a famous husband pass you by. It is not unlike making love to both of them at once.

  4. Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova (7 Nov 1989 - )
    CLICK for old time religion

          Show the depth of your love for and allegiance to a famous woman by paying her a conjugal visit. Demonstrate respect for her religion, even if her religion requires odd moments of sacrilege relative to your religion. Never tolerate gratuitous sacrilege, though. Your steadfast respect for yourself and for her and for your respective religions will engender a continuous boomerang of respect and affection between the two of you.

  5. Jennifer Herrema (1972ish - )
    CLICK for patriotism

          Cultivate fearlessness in your pursuit of the love of famous women, even in cases where that love is likely to destroy you completely. Rather than cling desperately to such destructive love for fear of its loss, allow it to blow itself up again and again, letting it go each time in order that it might rise from its own ashes, before grasping it once more.

  6. Veronica Sawyer (29 Oct 1971 - )
    CLICK for tough day at th office

          Don't try to be a cool guy.

  7. Taylor Alison Swift (13 Dec 1989 - )
    CLICK for legs

          Anticipate, accommodate, appreciate, and ameliorate her feelings of vulnerability. Avoid punishing her for displaying genuine vulnerability, even when her display borders on bad taste. Beware the temptation to abuse the power that you have when she behaves in a vulnerable way in your presence. When it comes time to part ways, have no regrets about the time and love you shared together. Your love has immortalized both of you.

  8. Polly Jean Harvey (9 Oct 1969 - )
    CLICK for autoharp

          A famous woman is often defined by a powerful sound erupting from a fragile-looking container. When making love to such a woman, behave in ways that complement and enhance those qualities; but remember to flip the script once in a while. Through subtle signals and telepathy (not words), let her know that you know exactly how powerful is the container, how fragile the sound.

  9. Gena Rowlands (19 Jun 1930 - )
    CLICK for future warmth

          If a famous woman happens to be your soul mate (a.k.a. spirit spouse), go ahead and make a lifelong commitment. Know full well going in that if you are crazy, and she is crazy, things will be crazy. Make crazyade.

  10. Hillary Clinton (26 Oct 1947 - )
    CLICK for blue head-on

          That you and she are both powerful does not make you a power couple, especially if your respective powers are wasted on cancelling each other out. Use the sum of your powers. Better yet, multiply the factors of your powers. Use the product of your powers. Your enemies will have reason to fear your love.

  11. Kylie Minogue (28 May 1968 - )
    CLICK for vertical

          A famous woman's persona may be so well beloved throughout the world that it threatens to swallow up her humanity and replace it with a pair of angelic wings. Do not fight this process, and do not compete directly with her by attempting to become more saintly. Instead, cultivate an outsized devilish persona of your own, for balance. Your wings will be darker and uglier than hers, but they'll be fully functional.

  12. Beyoncé (4 Sep 1981 - )
    CLICK for food shark

          She works hard for that money. Work hard for yours, or get the hell out of the game.

  13. Joan Didion (5 Dec 1934 - )
    5-foot-2 and 80 pounds

          Knowing your famous woman inside and out is to everybody's benefit, but don't mistake knowing facts about her (or knowing her work) for knowing her. Read up on her, but do not be nerdy, ever. Never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever be nerdy. She doesn't need you to be another fan or another reader. She needs to love you and get loved by you.

    Possibly the best living American essayist and probably the most influential, Didion has always maintained that she doesn’t know what she’s thinking until she writes it down.

    ... “Writers are always selling somebody out,” Didion wrote at the beginning of her first essay collection, 1968’s Slouching Towards Bethlehem.

    ... (Didion and Dunne had tried and failed to conceive for two years.)

    ... If Didion was remote with Quintana, she was consumingly close to the third member of the family, her husband, John Gregory Dunne. The central, immutable premise of both memoirs is John and Joan’s idyllic marriage-the one Utopia in which the skeptical Didion placed her faith. “They were always together,” as their old friend Calvin Trillin puts it. “They could finish each other’s sentences.” Working on screenplays together, they did.

    ... Both The Year of Magical Thinking and Blue Nights are recognizably memoirs of grief, but they’re rendered in Didion’s familiar remote voice. It’s an oddly effective fit: Her coolness plays against the genre’s sentimental excesses but still allows her to avoid argument and indulge in open-ended reveries built from repetitions of painful facts.

    -- Boris Kachka, New York Magazine, 16 Oct 2011

  14. Helen Gurley Brown (18 Feb 1922 - 13 Aug 2012)
    CLICK for a bishop

          Just because she is world-famous and by her very existence pleases billions and billions of people worldwide doesn't mean she has no hunger to please you, personally, one on one. Allow her that happiness.

  15. Lillian Diana Gish (14 Oct 1893 - 27 Feb 1993)
    CLICK for silent youth

          There are some famous women who will appeal to you more as a mother than as a lover. No problem. Make love to her with great tenderness or with animal fury. When she is happy, she will be happy to mother you, which will make you happy. When you are happy, you will be happy to make fierce, tender love to her. It's a tender, vicious loop. If you are lucky, she will love mothering for its own virtues, and you may skip the animal step entirely. See a therapist if need be.

  16. Barbara Stanwyck (16 Jul 1907 - 20 Jan 1990)
    CLICK for shoes

          Visualize a famous woman with her fists on her hips and a look on her face that combines "world-weary" and "sweet". Are you ready to deliver back-and-forth comedic banter of a sexually-charged nature? You had better be.

  17. Monica Vitti (3 Nov 1931 - )
    CLICK for gun

          Knowing that being enigmatic cancels age, preserve as much enigma as possible into your septuagenarian years. Your love will be demanded by famous women right to the bitter end.

  18. Susan Sontag (16 Jan 1933 - 28 Dec 2004)
    CLICK to recline

          When you have little information on a famous woman other than that your best friend is her biggest fan, make love to her with all your heart for his sake. He will never forgive you if you had a chance to get loved by her and chose the coward's way instead.

  19. Frida Kahlo (6 Jul 1907 - 13 Jul 1954)
    CLICK for bedridden art

          Although a high percentage of famous women are space aliens, some are conspicuously more space alien than others. To improve rapport, learn at least a few important phrases in the language of her species.

  20. Kara (21 May 1988; 24 Jul 1988; 13 Jan 1991; 7 Oct 1991; 18 Jan 1994 - )
    CLICK for th virtual beach

          In Korea, famous women tend to operate as teams. To preserve the harmony of the team, it's imperative that you make love to all of them, though not necessarily all at once. You will have favourites, but you mustn't play favourites unless you want the whole enterprise to blow up in your stupid face. The head that sticks above the others gets lopped off.

  21. Chaerin Lee (CL from 2NE1) (26 Feb 1991 - )
    CLICK for horizontal

          You may meet a famous woman whose good nature seems inexhaustible, in spite of her tough-girl stage persona. You may test this good nature to discover its limits, but do not abuse it. Her good nature is a gift, and gifts must be accepted graciously.

  22. Kate Winslet (5 Oct 1975 - )
    CLICK for fictional power couple

          Famous women whose main selling point is how classy they are may appreciate a lover who's a little rough around the edges, but don't overdo it. Balance your vulgarity and your humour with a deeper seriousness. Deliver your lines with a deadpan mien and unflinching eye contact. Belly laughs are welcome; nervous giggles are not.

  23. Lynda Barry (2 Jan 1956 - )
    CLICK for nerdy college student

          Should you meet a nerdy famous woman, it is acceptable to mirror her nerdiness with your own. Don't exceed hers, though. Your patience for the accessories of nerddom will often be rewarded with invigorating conversation, emotional catharses, and the sturdy furniture of wisdom, not to mention the sweet making of love.

  24. Phoebe Louise Adams Gloeckner (1960 - )
    CLICK for legends

          Make peace with contradictions and odd juxtapositions. A famous woman is likely to be full of them. How do you suppose she got famous, by being predictable and bland? by speaking in Venn diagrams? A famous woman might be full of energy but depressed, goofy but serious, respectful but resentful, submissive but full of power. It's not her job to make sense to you, her lover. She's naked and famous. She's wearing her heart. It's your job, as her lover, to make sense of it. In return, her peculiar brilliance will augment yours. You may ride that wave together into the moonset.

    Q: No, it doesn’t sensationalize. It doesn’t have this “Oh, woe is me” feel nor “you bastards who did mean things to Minnie.” It doesn’t have a lot of self-pity, and not a lot of condemnation either. Is that how you would look at it?

    A: (pause) Sorry, I’m just thinking. No, I’m a person who is generally full of hatred and venom. Honestly. And vindictiveness. And full of resentments of all sorts. But yet, I feel like it’s always giving me power. That’s a source of energy for me. I like feeling mad. And if it doesn’t come out in my books, I don’t know why.

    -- excerpt from an interview of Phoebe Gloeckner by Sean T. Collins, 2003

  25. Annie Nocenti (17 Jan 1957 - )
    CLICK for fan club

          Other famous women will be childhood heroes of yours. Prepare yourself to make love to your hero by exposing yourself to radioactive waste, or gamma rays in space. At the very least, get bitten by a radioactive spider. Gain superpowers by any means necessary because only superheroes may make love to heroes.

  26. Agnès Varda (30 May 1928 - )
    CLICK for subtitles

          Let a famous woman make a moving picture of you. Her eyes will see something in you that yours don't. You might enjoy knowing that there is a record of this moment, this world, and this body, whether or not you get around to re-living it. Make ordinary movies together. Your love will consist in large part of looking at ordinary objects through the prosthetic visual cortex of the other.

  27. Eleanor Davis (16 Jan 1983 - )
    CLICK for coffee

          Learn from a famous woman how to draw bodies on paper. Draw bodies entwined around one another in peculiar ways. Draw one box after another and fill the boxes with your filthy drawings to simulate the passage of time. Grow old together by reading left to right. Grow young together by reading right to left.

  28. Laura Palmer ( - )
    CLICK for animated gif

          Some of your best famous women are fictional bad girls. You will have only a brief moment with them, and you will know, somehow, in the moment, exactly what and who you are dealing with. Your mission is to stay in that moment forever. Maybe meditating will help.

  29. Dolly Rebecca Parton (19 Jan 1946 - )
    CLICK for hello

          Some famous women are gals. Do you know what I mean? In their presence you'll throw the word gal around willy-nilly. You'll throw the following words around willy-nilly: reckon, darlin', baby, y'all, come, back, now, y'hear, willy-nilly. Y'won't feel artificial doing this. You'll feel like a 100% natural person. A gal'll make you feel good and natural all over. Just standing there, winking, she'll make love seem like a joke you're in on. Here's what you do: without breaking the spell of your autonomous sensory meridian response, tell her that you're undecided about whether to worship God or Satan. Watch sparks fly like the Fourth of July.

  30. Emma Goldman (1869 - 1940)

          There are no pictures of some famous women on the Internet. When you find one in person, you'll have to recognize her by feeling, which shouldn't be too hard, since you have loved her since you were a child. Perhaps you'll find her one day, on a soapbox:

    The institution of marriage makes a parasite of woman, an absolute dependent. It incapacitates her for life's struggle, annihilates her social consciousness, paralyzes her imagination, and then imposes its gracious protection, which is in reality a snare ...

    Propose marriage to her on the spot and hope for the best.

  31. Ayn Rand (2 Feb 1905 - 6 Mar 1982)
    CLICK for caricature

          In accordance with Christ's teaching, you need not like a famous woman to love her. Once in a blue moon, a famous woman will appear who loves to fight -- who really loves fighting, not just feeling righteous, but rather the act of stacking her argument up against yours, confident that you were sloppy and failed to perceive an important detail or nuance of human psychology that she was too perceptive to miss. Fight her. Satisfy her. Be selfish in your fighting style. If being selfish is the coin of respect in her universe, show her the money. She won't make it easy for you to love her. "Nothing good is easy," she'll say, moments before the two of you tumble into a sloppy heap.

  32. Linda Susan Boreman (10 Jan 1949 - 22 Apr 2002)
    CLICK for nice names

          Tragedy strikes the famous girl next door every day. Your job is easy and sanctified by tradition: save her. Not from herself; not from her laundry list of poor decisions; not from bad guys; but from boredom. She's done a lot of things that a lot of other people find exciting, but she's mostly dead in the eyes when she does them. Find a mountain or a cornfield. Awaken the human within you both by eating mushrooms together. Strap in for a rocky ride. When the human shows up, love it with your whole heart. Get loved by it with your whole heart. Don't do any other kind of drug together, though.

  33. Poll #1913620 The thirty-third woman

    Who dat ?

          See? You're whole. Now go away and heal the rest of the poor bastards.

and i am reminded of lizzy mercier descloux, who asks us ‘pourquoi vivre à terre, quand le reste du ciel s’ultramarine et rien ne sert à rien sauf le désir’ which i am told translates roughly as ‘why live down on earth when the sky is so vast and so blue and all is pointless but desire’ and i think that sounds very right. -- EL JAY JINXMALONE

+ + +

Collapse )
04.  YOSHIYUKI OSAWA "(I Am) At a Loss" (15.2 MB) -- Split the difference between Peter Gabriel's "Your Eyes" and George Michael's "Heal the Pain"; add a pinch of Rod Stewart's "Some Guys Have All the Luck"; googletranslate over low heat for six minutes; push repeat on dat hoe.

Bonus tracks:
LOUVIN BROS "Satan Is Real" (4.2 MB) -- a prayer for a worthy supervillain

ROBERT MITCHUM & LILLIAN GISH "Leaning" (2.3 MB) -- a prayer for a reliable tag-team partner

IRIS DEMENT "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms" (4.0 MB) -- the same prayer in the mouth of a ainjil

ALISON KRAUSS "Down in the River to Pray" (4.0 MB) -- a prayer for a good place to pray

656660 alfred hugged tricky

arch nemesis

      The Voskhod programme shot two dogs into space on 22 February 1966 and brought them safely back to Earth on 16 March 1966; but the Soviets kept the mission's purpose a secret, refusing to disclose even the sex of the dogs. During their 22 days in orbit, Veterok ("Little Wind") and Ugolyok ("Little Lump of Coal") passed through the Van Allen radiation belt, which suggests that they were being tested for the effect of prolonged exposure to cosmic rays. Less than five years earlier, in Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961), Jack Kirby and Stan Lee had presented a scenario in which cosmic rays transformed four humans into four superhumans who wielded superpowers corresponding to the four Greek elements. The nature of Veterok's and Ugolyok's superpowers is a state secret to this day. All we know is that they held the record for longest mammalian spaceflight until the men of Skylab 2 surpassed it in 1973. They remain the canine record-holders. For their troubles -- 22 days of no walks -- they were immortalized on a stamp. Good dogs.

L-R: water, earth, and air

      Dog aficionados take dogs' goodness as a given. Given a good home and a clear idea of what's expected of them, dogs will be good. They'll love, get loved, lay one paw over the other, and never wonder where all the time went. Having no choice but to be good, dogs go to space as slaves or sacrifices. There but for the grace of God go we. Alas, we're blessed and cursed with the choice to be good. What if pets ...... are smarter than we think ...!? Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine stares up into my eyes expectantly and then stares into the middle distance and then stares out the window. He's a pea-brain, a dick-brain, a senile octogenarian, a baby. What if he ... has understood everything ...... that I've been saying ........... this whole time ...!? He has seen me on the toilet and heard me speak nonsense when no one else was around. He has witnessed my rages and my most boring days. He has watched straightwad porn with me. He'd have all the dirt on everybody if he only had a human brain, but his goodness in humans' eyes depends on his lack of one. With a reasoning brain, he'd have to justify capturing and torturing birds. He'd bear part of the responsibility of defining his own goodness, which would expose him to the risk of being wrong.

      Although David Foster Wallace's brain murdered David Foster Wallace -- who wrote at length on the debilitating effects of owning a brain -- most brain-on-self crime is boring. Ordinary brains owned by people who aren't called geniuses commit brain-on-self crime every day. Brains that stop short of self-murder tend to settle for laziness, addiction, and narcissism -- mental felonies that inspire repeat offenders and help keep psychiatry, the self-help industry, and organized religion in business. As much grief as Santa Claus takes for symbolizing capitalist excesses, we need him less as a toy supplier than as a reassurance that an external standard of goodness abides, as it does for household pets -- that goodness can be measured and attained in a practical sense. That there's a treat in it for us is just a bonus.

SPAIN: But it just seemed to me as a kid, not being very sophisticated, I wanted to be good, and I guess as you say [the Catholic Church] was some sort of standard by which you could define yourself as good. As you get older, you increasingly see the evil of the world. This seemed to be a way to attempt to counter that with some personal goodness. The first teacher I had in religious instruction was a very nice nun … you know, she was like some nun out of the movies, a very kind old lady who expounded a very benign religious ideology, so it seemed cool.


GROTH: Would your conception of liberty and justice for all include economic equality?

SPAIN: Yeah, definitely, right. I think that most people who have a good balance between productive, fulfilling work and pleasure are basically happy. I think people get loaded all the time as a substitute for therapy. They are people who are trying to work something out. While things can and should be set up so that everyone has the material basis for a decent life, including work at decent wages, access to means of improving their skills, etc., some sort of opportunity has to be made to provide circumstances where even the fucked-up can be useful too ... I think everybody, whatever their ideology, wants to see a society of the useful rather than a society of the useless. And I think that there is a strong impulse in people to want to be useful.

-- excerpts from Gary Groth's interview of Spain Rodriguez, The Comics Journal #204, May 1998

Spain in Spain (R.I.P. Spain)
photograph by Phoebe Gloeckner

      The alternative to an external good is the asspain of all asspains: an internal good that one continually has to maintain, and to negotiate against other people's versions of good; a good to which one can never not pay attention, in the sense that one can't not pay attention to an old, high-mileage car engine or a crying, shitting baby. Faced with such a deeply annoying task, most normal people will choose the moral equivalent of a factory preset: WWJD, liberal humanism, Objectivism, or punk rock, maybe. Moral relativists, supervillains, and crazy people march to their own beats, as do a minority of totally normal people. Remember that in a population of 7 billion humans with over a million years of evolution under their belts (since the first instances of Homo erectus), there's a sense in which nobody's abnormal. Everybody's mad. The ability to use language is mad. Therefore, nobody's mad. Everybody's normal.

      Back when I worked at the big chain bookstore in Hicksville, there was a guy named Alfred who worked in the bookstore's café and was completely mad. Alfred was a light-skinned black man in his early 20s who stood about 5'8", had dreadlocks, and was disliked by ladies. It wasn't that he was bad-looking or mean or that he lacked good hygiene. It wasn't clear to me at the time what it was, precisely, that bothered the ladies. Pheromones? Let's ask my wife about it.

      "What about a person might make you dislike them, even if they're friendly and clean and not ugly?"
      "People who blame other people for their problems all the time drive me mad."
      "All right, well, I don't think Alfred was like that, or at least his work colleagues didn't know him well enough to know what his problems were or whom he blamed for them. Although later, when he and his father sued his doctors ...? Hmm hmm maybe he was a person who blames other people, but that's not why the ladies shunned him."
      "Well, ladies are also well attuned to mental illness or any kind of social weirdness. A lot of ladies might find sociopaths attractive, but the schizophrenia side of mental illness ..."
      "It's like you're hardwired to run the other direction from that."
      "We're sensitive to the subtle cues."
      "Have you ever disliked an otherwise normal guy because of his smell?"
      "Yes. That happened."
      "And it wasn't B.O."
      "No, it was something else."
      "Do you think you can smell madness?"
      "Don't try to attribute any crazy quotes to me in your diary."

      At any rate, the ladies at the bookstore never confessed to smelling madness on Alfred, but that doesn't mean they didn't. When Indiana Jones or Han Solo had "a bad feeling about this", did we try to break that feeling into its component parts? The bookstore ladies had a bad feeling about Alfred. Meanwhile, I liked him. He'd won me over with a few words in Tagalog -- oldest trick in the book. His dad had worked for the State Department or something, so Alfred had lived in the Philippines for a spell and gone to International School Manila. One day at work, Alfred said, "Hey, I've got something for you" and handed me a diary filled with collages and poems he'd made.

      "Thank you, Alfred," I said.
      "You're welcome," he said.

      Later, I noticed that the collages weren't pasted down onto the diary's pages, but were wedged into the book's binding, insecurely held in place like pressed flowers. Alfred approached me later in the day and said, "I'm gonna need that back after you're done with it."

      The bookstore ladies made fun of him for the way he pounded his chest twice with one fist and then gave the peace symbol. "Word," said Alfred. Even though he was black, his Ebonics sounded contrived, they complained.

      My then-girlfriend Natalie and I picked Alfred up from his house once to go to a party. His mother's voice came from down the hallway: "Don't stay out too late, Alfred." In the car, we had totally normal conversations. At the party, Alfred acted totally normal, which annoyed the ladies. Later, after we dropped him off, Natalie told me that Alfred had reached into the front seat and "played with" her right ear. None of us spoke of it afterwards, and I stopped trying to hang out with Alfred outside of work.

      In January 1997, my good friend Erica and I went to hear Tricky, who was on tour in support of Pre-Millennium Tension. In the middle of what was already one of the most memorable shows I'd seen, Alfred suddenly hopped up on stage and seized a microphone that had been abandoned for a moment by Tricky's collaborator and baby mama, Martina Topley-Bird. In Erica's ear, I said,

      "Holy shit, that's Alfred."
      "Oh!" she said.

      The yellow-shirted event security staff moved to apprehend Alfred, but Tricky waved them off. Tricky let Alfred rap a verse or two -- something about how hard it is for ghetto brothers and sisters -- and then, with a dial twist, he avalanched Alfred's wack-ass rhymes under a hail of thunderous beats. Alfred, now looking a bit hurt, replaced the mic, walked over to Tricky, and hugged him with a mixture of gratitude and desperation. In my mind's VCR, it plays as one of Spike Lee's trademark double hugs, or even a triple or quadruple hug. Alfred hugged Tricky. Alfred hugged Tricky. Alfred tried to chat with a glum-looking Martina for a minute as she instinctively recoiled from his attentions, and then, finally, he left the stage.

      After the show, I congratulated Alfred weakly on his star-making performance. He feigned modesty and seemed vaguely angry and distracted, like a real famous person. Erica confessed to me that when I'd said, "That's Alfred", she'd assumed that Alfred was one of those one-name pop stars with whom she should have been familiar. In the next issue of the local alternative weekly, a review of the concert reported that there had been murmurs in the crowd that the unknown stage interloper was none other than Prince, who had also happened to be in town that night for his own concert. Alas, the writer knew better. It was just some kid, an MC wannabe.

      Back @ work, Alfred went missing. When he showed up after a week of calling in sick, he confided to me that he'd followed Tricky on tour; that he and Martina had had coffee together; that they'd had an incredible conversation. He quit or got fired from the café not long after that.

      I never saw Alfred again, but his name and photograph did pop up in the paper a year later after he killed his mother with a baseball bat. The paper reported that he'd returned home after a night out and crashed his car into the side of the house. When the first police officer arrived at the scene, Alfred was standing outside smoking a cigarette. "I just killed my mother," he said. The court found him not guilty by reason of insanity. It turns out that two months prior to the homicide, during a hospital stay, Alfred had slashed his own throat, exposing the trachea. At his trial, mental health professionals testified that he'd been exhibiting schizophrenia and bipolar disorder since he was 16. While being transported by police from one mental health facility to another, Alfred kicked out a window and threw himself out of the moving vehicle. He lived. Seven years after the homicide, the same judge that accepted Alfred's insanity plea ruled that he no longer posed a threat to society as long he continued to receive therapy and medication, and ordered his release. He has stayed out of the news since then. In a Facebook picture, he stands in front of a body of water. There's a bridge and a crane in the background, and buildings that look European. He's got his arm around the waist of a medium pretty, blonde, girl-next-door-ish white woman. He's fatter, and his 'locks are long gone. My wife examines the picture.

      "Pretend you didn't hear the story behind it," I say. "Does that man have crazy eyes?"

      But that's the problem right there. Once a person has heard a story, there's no un-hearing it. A judge, a lawyer, a team of mental health "experts", and the ghost of his mother might argue that Alfred has been rehabilitated; but even if you believe them, you're going to see crazy eyes. And that's why we tell children stories instead of handing them user's manuals. By the time they figure out that not all stories are true -- or that too many stories are true for one person to contain them all -- it's too late. Consider how many stories an adult living in an advanced capitalist civilization has heard, and how each of those stories contains a version of what "good" means. Naturally, some stories get told more than others, and some stories are more invisible than others.

There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys, how's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?"

-- David Foster Wallace, commencement speech to Kenyon College's graduating class of 2005

      What if ...... we're drowning in "good" things ........... and don't even know it? What if we're not drowning, but the only reason we're not drowning is that we don't know what water is? What if state-assisted corporate capitalism got so good at telling stories that it forgot that state-assisted corporate capitalism is itself a story? How many times did DFW watch The Matrix? How does The Matrix feel about being inside the Matrix? How many roads must a man walk down before a computer can tell the difference between a male writer and a female one? In the 1950s, "good" Americans considered Communism so dangerous, so un-American, that they banned suspected Communists from telling stories, which marked both the beginning of the Cold War and the beginning of the end of the Cold War. While it's true that Hollywood KO'd Communism, it did so by virtue of a super-narrative that contradicts and ultimately transcends Ronald Reagan's official narrative. In a nutshell, Hollywood neutralized Communism by lionizing it. Knowing that banning a story only makes it stronger (see also: Deep Throat (Damiano, 1972)), the gods of American capitalism gave Communism's story an artificial boost. Suddenly, Communism was much more cool than it was; and because cool things carry social status and wealth-making potential in a capitalist society, now it could be bought and sold. Che Guevara baby tees were born.

      In the same way, Kapital absorbs every story that can be thrown at it. It lets all stories happen, knowing that it can level up at any time and render any narrative a sub-narrative. Gun control? Gun apologism? You got pwned. Feminism, anti-racism, environmentalism, "nostalgia for simpler times" (i.e., white supremacy). Pwned, pwned, pwned, pwned. Even anti-capitalism, especially anti-capitalism, any permutation. Even this story that I'm telling now. *Stops typing, goes grocery shopping, returns before anyone has noticed, continues typing.* In an essay addressing nostalgia for pre-capitalist forms of subsistence, lazenby, the great Internet cipher, posed the dilemma this way:

There are any number of problems that we try and escape by embracing what seem to be their opposites. But even when we’re wrapped all the way around whatever we’ve come up with, we still feel tasked. It’s the feeling of running between a thing and its opposite, while slowly realizing that no matter how extreme you get, you’re still stuck in the same frame. Which contains both.

... All of those compromises rankle, and spear us on false dichotomies, and then make us crave a third way.

Lazenby then submits AA as a third way between addiction and legislative prohibition -- a way for the powerless to reclaim lost power and remake society on a more user-friendly scale. A few years ago, Livejournal might have embodied a sane third way between creation and consumption, between narcissism and hero worship, between Internet addiction and going off the grid. To those of us who won't either live in a literal yurt and hunt rabbits or try to sell a worthless app to Facebook for roughly $1 billion in cash and stock, third ways aren't little oases away from culture; they're our way of getting through every day with dignity, with confidence, with bonhomie, without addiction, without a stack of chips on our shoulders, with a bit of class and style, with a story.

Spain's Heaven

      The late, great Marxist cartoonist Spain Rodriguez marked a third path throughout his life. As a child, he was a skeptic who was attracted to organized religion. He was a Spanish American who joined the Jewish Cub Scouts. As a teenager, he was a juvenile delinquent immersed in the nerdiest of interests -- reading and making comix. As a grown man, he was an anti-racist who joined a racist motorcycle gang; a feminist who boned a lot of ladies; a Stalinist who admired the U.S. Constitution; a bar brawler and a sweetheart. Somehow, unlike his ectomorphic friend R. Crumb, Spain resolved the various tensions in himself with a minimum of neurotic handwringing. His work combines a sketchbook unfussiness with robotic accuracy. His figures look like warm robots, like horny action figures. He was great at drawing cars and motorcycles. Justin Green confirms that Spain's working methods were congruent with the gracefulness of his finished product: "He would be ensconced in an easy chair in front of a day/night TV, dashing off authoritative and bold ink lines from minimum penciling." By virtue of being born in the current era, Spain was as much a capitalist as any other American, but his resistance to his birthright lacked the dust cloud of despair that follows most leftists. His view of personal freedom echoes Alan Moore's "last inch" but spins it with alpha male fearlessness:

“It seems to refer to the core of the American vision or the democratic vision, that there’s an aspect of yourself that you owe to your society in terms of omission and commission, but there’s an aspect of your life that you don’t owe to anybody. This is something that there’s a constant fight over. In terms of underground comix they certainly broke through that fifties fantasy that conservatives are so dedicated to maintaining, despite that fact that it was a fantasy in the fifties, and now it’s an absurd charade. Comic books are really something that are part of some core of this country. And that’s the struggle. Liberty and justice for all should mean you can say what you want. Unless you can show some tangible harm I’m doing to somebody, fuck off. That’s the battle line I want to be on. I intend to remain here until they carry me away on my back. If it doesn’t sound too grandiose, I think the undergrounds were really a continuation of the American Revolution. Hell, it sounds too grandiose, but so what?”


      Raging against the machine isn't good enough. If social change occurs only when large numbers of people all decide to do the same thing at the same time, what happens when one half of a nation is continuously enraged at the other half, and the government becomes an effigy upon which each side projects the crimes of the opposite side? President Obama is definitely a socialist, or President Obama is definitely a warmongering corporate shill, but President Obama is never an accurate composite of the consumerist impulses of 300 million Americans. Consider the word unplugged in The Last Psychiatrist's discussion of the link between rage and narcissism:

You might think that the rage is the spark for a transformation of America, a full scale Dagny Taggart meltdown or Bolshevik revolution, depending on your hat. That's not how it works. If this is narcissism, then its purpose is protecting identity, defending against change. Doesn't matter what side you think you're on, unless you are unplugged you are for the status quo.

Since nobody can read that sentence without being plugged in, it might as well be translated as, "Unless you did not read this sentence, you are for the status quo." A fish is a fish so long as it doesn't get out of the water and walk on land.

      Getting out of the water isn't good enough. Jim Jones and the People's Temple got out of the water; but their communal hopelessness -- their feeling that their communist experiment had failed -- affirmed the guilt that keeps capitalism from flying apart. "Revolutionary suicide" rejects and reinforces capitalist guilt in the same dying breath. It's the "Hotel California" of revolutionary acts.

If in Capitalism transcendence is replaced with immanence, Benjamin continues, salvation is replaced by guilt. If the potential to achieve absolution exists in the actuality, if one can be saved in the here and now, then any failure to do so, any disappointment or unhappiness in the present immediately manifests itself as guilt: “Capitalism is probably the first instance of a cult that creates guilt, not atonement”.

-- Pil and Galia Kollectiv on Walter Benjamin, excerpt from "Capitalism as Cult"

Kollectiv's article submits Scientology as a third way that one day might supplant both capitalism and religion:

Unlike the hippie cults of the 1960s and ‘70s, [Scientology] was established by L. Ron Hubbard in concomitance with contemporary power, rather than as a radical break with it: “We seek no revolution. We seek only evolution to higher states of being for the individual and for society”.

      And that's how human history works, maybe. An idea starts out as a joke or as a science fiction story dreamed up by a pill addict; but the idea proves useful for somebody because every story is useful to somebody. The story gets longer, more organized, and more polished; and it gets disseminated; and it tells readers, "You've been taking the blue pill this whole time. Now here's the red pill." And then after a couple generations of people who were born hearing the funny story, it's not funny anymore; it's not even a story; it's like oxygen. It's like a glass of tap water morphed into the sea.

GROTH: Of course, the perverse thing now, though, is that the people who are doing mainstream comics really consider themselves to be almost entirely free to do what they want, because that’s what they want to do. So you have that new-found paradox where the kind of crap that people were essentially forced to do for commercial reasons is now being done out of some sort of inner need or inner impulse. [Laughs.] You can’t win, Spain.

space alien

      Every time somebody makes fun of bad grammar or celebrates good grammar without remembering what grammar's for -- no, not for marking differences in education and social status, but for making one's ideas understood -- that's the glass of tap water pretending it's not a glass of tap water.

Well baby they tumbling down
And they didn't even put up a fight
They didn't even make a sound
I found a way to let you in

      I was going to make a year-end post cataloguing all the good things that made 2012 get loved, but when I started asking what "good" meant, this post is what came out instead. Naturally, Aristotle settled the question something like 100 years ago --

"[I]n Aristotle's view, the soul has three sorts of components. These are our passions, our faculties and our states of character. Our passions are our feelings, our desires, fears, ambitions etc. Our faculties are our natural capacities for feeling and acting in the various ways that we can. Our states of character can be thought of as complex tendencies or dispositions to act and feel in certain ways under certain circumstances. Given this view of what the soul consists of, moral virtues must be identified with one of these three. Aristotle rules out the first two possibilities and is left with the view that virtues are states of character.

"Virtues cannot be passions, Aristotle claims, because we are not praised or blamed for the way we feel, but we are praised or blamed for our virtues. We are not praised or blamed for our feelings because they arise more or less involuntarily in response to circumstances. Aristotle's reason for denying that virtues are faculties is similar. Part of a person's faculties consist of his or her ability to feel anger. B[ut] we do not praise or blame people for having the ability to feel anger. Rather, we praise people for tending to manifest their ability to feel anger when, and only when, the circumstances call for it. So virtues are not to be identified with our capacities either. Virtues must, therefore, be states of character."

-- W. Russ Payne, excerpt from "Aristotle on Virtue", Google's #1 hit for "aristotle on virtue"

-- but it's sort of neglectful to update my version of "good" less frequently than my version of iTunes. Anyhow, Aristotle wasn't an American; his story never had to compete with the narrative Frankenstorm of the Internet chattering class; and ancient Greek schoolkids never got shot up by skinny weird guys. Naturally, I haven't been able to stop thinking about Alfred, playing his story backward and forward like the Zapruder film in search of redemptive potential. Whether Tricky hugged back or not is lost to history, which means George Lucas is free to CGI it however he wants.

Greetings from Earth-2

Happy new year, Livejournal. Hug responsibly, and have a virtuous and grammatical 2013.

+ + +

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05.  IDA "Little Things" (6.0 MB) -- This is one of the things that happened to punk in the 1990s. It turned down the volume; questioned conventional social relationships from the inside instead of from the outside; and stopped trying to fetishize confusion as a sexy thing. Littleton and Mitchell double down on the line "I'll try to understand", and their harmonizing generates a third path between overconfidence and defeat. As Mulder or Errol Morris might say, behaving as if the truth is out there is the only way to earn our confusion.

Bonus track:
UNKNOWN CAMBODIAN ARTIST "Final Countdown" (4.8 MB) -- Nearly done with lostcosmonaut. Hang in there.

655660 to meekly go where no man has gone before


      If an historical Jesus truly predicted th meek's inheriting of Earth, he probably didn't mean a used-up husk of a planet ripped apart by resource extraction and radioactive waste. Still, any narrative wherein th meek inherit a territory that th bold haven't discarded for greener pastures has a few plot holes. As Buzz Aldrin's fan club's president might put it, "The rest of us will be blasting off to explore the final frontier." Th meek will huddle, not as American football players do, but for warmth against a bitter, polluted wind. If th meek are lucky, th bold -- fortune's favourites -- will smirk @ them from across light years, in acknowledgment of th secret bond between winner and loser, as if to say, "I'm me because you're you."

Kapt Shat

      Let us translate "th meek" as "th nerds", though, and suddenly Jesus' prophecy opens up like a Microsoft window. In 2012, "Blessed are th nerds" requires neither clarification nor leap of faith. When we are cruising between distant star systems @ FTL speeds, we'll know exactly whom to thank: not jocks. Yet th nerd-jock dichotomy retains a near-mystical power over popular images of masculinity. Consider President Obama v. Governor Romney; Sam Weir v. Todd Schellinger; David v. Goliath; Kurt Cobain v. Kurt Cobain's popularity; Wes Anderson v. Michael Bay; OFWGKTA v. pretty much any rap collective whose members are older than 30; Louis C.K. v. Dane Cook; Jews v. Gentiles.


      Technological innovation and nerdy know-how may rule everything around me; but many societies still prize traditional jock values such as swagger, physical strength, competitiveness, obliviousness, risk seeking, and being a jerk. Amongst those odd individuals who have demonstrated both nerd and jock tendencies, perhaps Neil Armstrong best embodies what's possible to one who fuses and transcends conventional categories. Armstrong spanned th gamut of nerdish and jockish identities -- Eagle Scout, Korean War veteran, Phi Delt brother, baritone horn player, aeronautical engineer, dairy farmer, etc. His death in August of this year left a vacant nerd-jock throne, to be filled when Stephen Hawking and his cybernetic exoskeleton win a Paralympic powerlifting gold medal. Most of us will slant one way or th other. My cousins are jocks. My wife's a nerd. All of my Internet friends except for Andrew W.K. are nerds. None of us are going to get to outer space this way.


      Never mind for a moment that nobody knows why we ought to. Part of what's so damn impressive about Apollo 11 is that President Kennedy called his shot eight years in advance -- like Babe Ruth pointing his bat toward bleachers that don't yet exist -- and got Congress on board w/o establishing a practical outcome. To trust in space is to trust in America, he seemed to be saying. What haven't we been able to do?

"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.

"... It is a most important decision that we make as a nation. But all of you have lived through the last four years and have seen the significance of space and the adventures in space, and no one can predict with certainty what the ultimate meaning will be of mastery of space."

-- President John F. Kennedy, excerpt from an address to a joint session of Congress, 25 May 1961

      Th Cold War enhanced Kennedy's salesmanship skills. Uncertainty over what might happen if th Russians got to th moon first lit a metaphorical fire under NASA that mirrored th real fire under a Saturn V rocket. On 12 September 1962 -- 16 months after his moon speech to Congress -- Kennedy delivered a more elaborate speech @ Rice University in Houston, th city that would soon be home to NASA's Mission Control Center:

"The exploration of space will go ahead, whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time, and no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations can expect to stay behind in the race for space.

"... [T]his generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it -- we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding."

      Who can doubt th motivating power of fear? Kennedy's language invokes a sense of adventure and pure curiosity while also sowing a seed of technological xenophobia. Cleverly, he frames th infinity of space as another parcel of scarce real estate.

"Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world's leading space-faring nation ..."

      Space-faring nation? Fifty years later, that part sounds especially silly and especially inspiring. Space-faring nation! Between 1969 and 1972, America sent 24 men to th moon, 12 of whom put their bootprints on its surface. Half of those dozen got to drive a little car around on th moon. Forty years after Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt left their little car parked on th moon, th space-faring nation's lunar box score has not changed: 24, 12, and 6. Nerdy concerns have thrived in th meantime; now science fiction dominates entertainment; and handheld gadgets dominate our attention, track our whereabouts, and facilitate our commerce; but th jocks have abandoned th space program. Lacking effective salesmen or thrill-seeking explorers, th space program has turned inward and become imaginary, solitary, and nostalgic. President Obama has paid lip service to a Mars mission, but he has no Soviets pushing him, and empty pockets. President Kennedy, fueled by a narrative w/ a clear bad guy and a solid destination, escapes th gravity of cynicism:

"... There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation may never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? ...

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win ..."

      Note his tone there. It's that peculiar mix of arrogance and innocence that shields impossible-seeming projects from their naysayers. Americans have forgotten that popular support for Apollo rarely rose above 50 percent during its existence; that one half of America thought Apollo's $25 billion budget -- about $150 billion in today's money -- might be better spent fixing Earth problems.

"... Space expenditures will soon rise some more, from 40 cents per person per week to more than 50 cents a week for every man, woman and child in the United States, for we have given this program a high national priority -- even though I realize that this is in some measure an act of faith and vision, for we do not now know what benefits await us."

      In Kennedy's appeal to faith, th space program revealed itself as a secular church, and 50 cents per person per week was its tithe. Anyone who has asked why a church has stained-glass windows and other extravagant artworks while indigent mentally ill people drink themselves to death on street corners will understand why Oliver Wendell Harrington, Gil Scott-Heron, Amitai Etzioni, and other outspoken civil rights proponents opposed exploring space on th public dime.

Ollie Harrington, June 1969, th month before Armstrong's moon landing

      Meanwhile, certain religions embrace space narratives. In Mormon cosmology, Earth is merely one of a multitude of inhabited planets; and th highest of three heavens is referred to as th Celestial Kingdom, which corresponds to Paul's "glory of the sun" in 1 Corinthians 15:41 ("There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory."). Th best believers are destined, @ least metaphorically speaking, for th sun; OK believers will have to settle for th moon; and unbelievers, provided they haven't chosen Satan, will go to a lesser star (after 1000 years in spirit prison). Persons from all three groups will receive resurrected physical bodies and will presumably be needing interstellar transportation.

      Scientologists' relationship w/ space is a bit more conflicted. Seventy-five million years ago, they propose, a galactic dictator named Xenu used space vessels that closely resembled DC-8s to transfer billions of his overpopulated planet's citizens to th planet Teegeeack -- now known as Earth -- where he dropped hydrogen bombs on them, which not only killed them but caused their souls, a.k.a. "thetans", to fly skyward. Xenu captured these thetans w/ electronic vacuum cleaners; sat them in front of propagandistic 3D IMAX movies for 36 days; and den released them into th wild w/ false memories and false beliefs. These brainwashed souls -- clustered into groups of several thousand and known as "body thetans" -- went on to inhabit human beings, infecting our original divine souls w/ all manner of harmful illusions, which include our various neuroses and mental illnesses as well as all th world's religions except for one: L. Ron Hubbard's Scientology, which offers exclusive access to universal truth @ a bargain price. If I have misunderstood some details of Hubbard's cosmology, blame my body thetans, who don't want my true thetan to surf th spaceways unencumbered, omniscient, and full of th Power Cosmic.

      For those unlikely to board a spaceship in this lifetime, exploration of inner space provides an alternate method of purification and self-actualization. Practicers of transcendental meditation describe an ocean of pure consciousness that most of us have not experienced, in th same way that most of us have not seen Earth from outside of Earth. From Earth's surface, we experience things on Earth as an unlimited number of separate things; but from above Earth, that unlimited number of things resolves into a single sphere. Only 528 people from 38 countries have been to space. When asked what it's like to see everything as one thing, they say, "It really puts things in perspective."

"Little fish swim on the surface, but the big ones swim down below. If you can expand the container you're fishing in -- your consciousness -- you can catch bigger fish.

"Here's how it works: Inside every human being is an ocean of pure, vibrant consciousness. When you transcend in Transcendental Meditation, you dive down into that ocean of pure consciousness. You splash into it. And it's bliss. You can vibrate with this bliss. Experiencing pure consciousness enlivens it, expands it. It starts to unfold and grow.

"If you have a golf-ball-sized consciousness, when you read a book, you'll have a golf-ball-sized understanding. When you look out a window, a golf-ball-sized awareness. When you wake up in the morning, a golf-ball-sized wakefulness. And as you go about your day, a golf-ball-sized inner happiness. But if you can expand that consciousness, make it grow, then when you read that book, you'll have more understanding. When you look out, more awareness. When you wake up, more wakefulness. And as you go about your day, more inner happiness. You can catch ideas at a deeper level, and creativity really flows. It makes life more like a fantastic game."

-- David Lynch, excerpt from Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity

      If space travel were inexpensive, Earth-ball-sized consciousness might be more common. World peace might be less of a joke if human beings had a way of reminding themselves that there is a world and that it is a round, blue, and quiet one. Th problem w/ space is that it appears to go on forever, and a man has no way of knowing his place in it. We think we know what happens when we die. We come apart, and our various components are washed away to be reabsorbed into something else, for as long as th sun continues to burn. Matter and energy are neither created nor destroyed but are continually configured into more useable and less useable forms. If space tells us that it doesn't matter whether or not we continue to exist, it's our job to come up w/ a snappy comeback. You think you're so big, don't you? You think you're so bad. Well, I heard you started out extremely dense and small. You think you're so vast until you get folded. You got a hole chewed in you ...... by a worm! Hey, is that dark matter, or are you just missing some mass?

      Th problem w/ space is that it is not telling us one damn thing. On th one hand, Armstrong came back from space in possession of a deep humility and serenity. On th other hand, Aldrin, th second man on th moon, struggled w/ alcoholism for years after retiring from NASA and taking a managerial position in th Air Force. Th year after returning from space, Lisa Nowak drove 900 miles from Houston to Orlando wearing an adult diaper in an attempt to kidnap/eliminate her ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend. Space won't talk to us. We keep praying to th stars, anyhow. A star made Pinocchio a real human being, remember. When your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.

"Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link."
-- Simone Weil

      Th spaceman dreams of pushing @ th outer limits of th known, which is entirely different from dreaming of being great. We can say that Sergio Leone is great @ filmmaking or that Idlewild are great @ rocking a sweaty club crowd, but it doesn't make sense to say that Neil Armstrong is great @ going to th moon, any more than it makes sense to say that th moon is a great place to visit. If you liked Hawaii, we think you'll love th moon. Actually, th moon's dull next to all th places Picard has been; that's not th point. Th point is that every time a human being challenges th unknown, he stops reading a story and starts writing one. It's th loneliest territory to occupy -- nobody knows what you know except you -- which is why explorers make maps. Explorers who enter HERE BE DRAGONS territory come back breathing fire. They have to draw a special map for themselves to find their way back to being regular people. For one confusing moment, Armstrong deeply identified w/ both all of us and none of us. He muffed th man/mankind line accordingly.

"That is, the photorealism style he was pioneering, at the point of his death, would be shifted to the margins of the comics field and it would be Jack Kirby's cartoon realism's turn to shine for a good decade or so. ... I don't know. I think comics holds a linchpin place in the world's reality and Reality since it's the medium that comes closest to the solitary creator of worlds, which Raymond certainly was, Drake certainly was, and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby certainly were."
-- Dave Sim on Alex Raymond, from glamourpuss #24

      Cartoonists' desire to be "solitary creators of worlds" bemuses most people. A cartoonist is God to his creations, but how satisfying can God's life be if he's locked up in his studio alone, drawing little pictures all day? A film director hangs out w/ his crew all day and enjoys th high social status that accrues from having people obey his directions. A fiction writer bangs out 30 pages on a good day and den leans on th reader's imagination to complete th world-building. A good day for a cartoonist produces one page that can be read in a matter of seconds. Likewise, an astronaut or cosmonaut completes years of groundwork for a chance to interface briefly but directly w/ unearthly reality; and, even then, economics dictates that his voyage will be a business trip. Having escaped Earth's gravity, finally, a solitary experiencer of worlds has a duty to take notes for his bosses.

      Love binds spacemen to Earth as rockets help them leave it all behind. Sergei Krikalyov, th sexy cosmonaut, has spent more time in space -- 803 days over 6 missions -- than any other human. What Morgan Freeman said on th Science Channel about Krikalyov -- that he travelled 1/48 of a second into th future, due to th slowing effect of gravity on time's passage -- may sound weird; but if a married man can spend 311 consecutive days in space w/ a cute British lady -- as Krikalyov did in 1991-92 -- w/o wrecking his marriage, nothing's impossible. On Battlestar Galactica (2004-09), th spacemen spend their whole time in space dreaming about Earth; but on Star Trek, th spacemen's home is th bridge, which resembles traditional American living rooms in that th whole family may sit comfortably facing a large screen. Meanwhile, Princess Leia proves that one may find happiness following th total destruction of one's home planet. Th stories all tell us that we haven't seen anything yet; that space is weirder than anything we know; and that in th face of supreme weirdness, humans will renew th mundane values: love, friendship, family, and fairness. As JFK said, we do not now know what benefits await us. A film or a person's life may be judged by its ending, but th edge of space resists judgment or meaning; it's th beginning of more unknown unknowns. Th reader continues to scroll down, wondering if th bottom of th page will tell him who killed JFK. Instead, th page gets longer. Th reader's questions multiply. There's a parallel universe in which Greedo shot first. Another one in which Laika made contact w/ an alien life-form who appeared to her as a dog w/ a small, skinny, hairless body; a big head; bug eyes; and a Tina Turner mane -- in other words, a Chinese crested. In a distant corner of our universe, accessible only by FTL transit, there's a planet of pure leisure.

Yet's dough trazy

Report to th dance floor

LA LA LALA LALA one two three four five six do it

Know what you're thinkin' mister

Well, don't think too hard

      I fell asleep last night while taking a hot bath. Th wife, having heard a snore coming from th bathroom, walked in just in time to pull my head up from underwater. Whatever I had been dreaming of -- th womb, zero-g mud wrestling, life as a manta ray, or something else -- had been pleasant. Th wife googled bathtub drownings.

      "The Internet says you probably wouldn't have died that way."
      "What a relief."
      "Just to be safe, though -- no more late-night baths for you."
      "You love safety. For fun, let's continue thinking that you saved my life."
      "All right. Y'know, you've been thinking about space so much, your brain probably wanted to feel what it's like to be in zero gees."
      "Now I can write about space w/ absolute authority."
      "Yes, it turns out that space smells like shampoo."
      "There was only one way to know for sure."

forms of worship

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06.  NINA SIMONE "Why Keep On Breaking My Heart" (3.6 MB) -- This song's got that apocalyptic edge that makes it right @ home in a nuclear holocaust or infinitely approaching an event horizon.

Bonus tracks:
ACADEMY OF ANCIENT MUSIC & PAUL GOODWIN "Tavener: Funeral Canticle (excerpt)" (18.4 MB) -- I listened to this 33 times while typing this post. It lent a true cosmic aura to th outer space parts of Tree of Life.

3Ds "Outer Space" (6.1 MB) -- A gritty, Earthy take on outer space. Rocket fuel misused for purposes of jumping on th bed.

SKYY "First Time Around (12" remix)" (10.4 MB) -- If Star Wars had had a disco soundtrack. Actually, Star Wars did inspire a disco album, and this song wasn't on it, but it woulda been a lot easier on th ears if it had been.

LEFT BANKE "She May Call You Up Tonight" (5.5 MB) -- Nothing to do w/ space. This song is about either keeping a girl you like away from a boy she might like better, or keeping a girl you cheated w/ away from th girl you cheated on -- choose yr own adventure. Th bridge's vocal melody and brief piano solo are a bit of a weird fit for th verses, but that weirdness augments Steve Martin Caro's awkward delivery. He was 18 when this song was released, and keyboardist/songwriter Michael Brown was 17.

ROY MONTGOMERY "Above th Canopy" (20.3 MB) -- A good approximation of weightlessness. Picture a sleeping old lady's limbs rising up off of her bed, and den her whole body rising up, trailed by a billowing nightgown, and den levitating through a permeable ceiling into sunlight before she wakes up, not surprised @ all (because she's a full-on mutant).

GORKY'S ZYGOTIC MYNCI "Moon Beats Yellow" (3.7 MB) -- Amongst th many pretty songs that have "moon" in th title, this is th one that came to me first.

654660 a zombie movie in which there's only one zombie in the world, and it's you

      Thought experiment: suppose you support slave labour. You're th captain of a trireme. Below deck, 170 oarsmen row yr boat to war. Never mind -- Wikipedia says that, contrary to popular belief, triremes' crews were composed of free men. Suppose you're th pharaoh's niece walking in th shade of a palm frond held by a nervous Israelite girl as you watch 100,000 other Jewish slaves swarming ant-like over incomplete pyramids. Wait a cotton-pickin' minute: Wikipedia says, "Outside of the Biblical account, no evidence has ever been found indicating the systematic enslavement of Israelites." How about this: you're Leonardo Dicaprio as a white plantation master in th antebellum American South who owns Jamie Foxx's wife and doesn't seem sorry about it whatsoever. You love slave labour. You have no problem w/ it. How does that feel? When you look @ a mirror, do you see a good person? Do you ask God for forgiveness? Will yr children be stained by slave blood you spilt? Is yr sleep full of dreams of th living dead?

      These are all trick questions because in all likelihood you do support slave labour in th here and now. You might not be cracking a literal whip; but have a look @ th U.S. Department of Labour's List of Goods Produced by Child Labour or Forced Labour for 2012 -- specifically pp 25-34 -- and tell me you haven't cracked one of those lethal metaphorical whips. In America we're still trying to repair our slave-enriched past while manufacturing brand-new slave-damaged karma every time we go to th store. It's enough to drive a conscientious atheist to believe in original sin.

"You've already said, 'I was born into capitalist sin. I was born into racist sin.' Whether it was celibacy or no alcohol or work -- living on two dollars a week -- you just couldn't do enough to purge yourself of this unrighteousness we were born into. You were born into money, you were born into the bourgeoisie. I can't speak for black people, but this is what hit me, a middle-class, religious, white kid who was deeply distressed about what was going on in the world." -- Jean Clancey, from Leigh Fondakowski's Stories from Jonestown

      Hurricane Isaac crawled through town starting on a Tuesday in late August. Th wife put on a red cocktail dress and poured two glasses of wine while we waited for th storm to climax. Kevin lounged about as if he welcomed nature's assertion of dominance over humanity. Th power went out @ 6:00 p.m. A window in th stairwell leading up to our apartment kept slamming open, and I had to tie it down using Kevin's leash, which I'd tried to use on Kevin just once, and which he'd found unacceptable. Five days later, th power still hadn't returned, but by that time, we -- th wife, Kevin, and I -- had high-tailed it to Jackson, MS, a city named after th famous ethnic cleanser and seventh POTUS, Andrew Jackson. Th drive from NOLA to Jackson had been marked by th roar of air rushing in through th driver's side rear window, which had been smashed out by an unknown vandal on Monday -- th day before Hurricane Isaac hit -- too late to get it fixed before th storm. "Black teenager," I had guessed.

      Naturally, Isaac put me in mind of 2005's media darling, Katrina. Mike Myers' look of panic after Kanye West has complained on live TV that George Bush doesn't care about black people appeared to me first; followed by a picture of a grinning, acoustic-guitar-strumming President Bush photoshop'd next to a crying black woman cradling a crying babby; followed by pictures of white "scavengers" and black "looters"; followed by unconfirmed radio reports of raping in th Superdome; followed by a floating, bloated dog carcass; followed by a skinny cat getting scruffed by a rescue worker emerging from an attic window. Nobody has gone broke from peddling disaster porn, nor from pimping th drama of whites and blacks in th throes of thinking th worst of one another. In NOLA, people keep th fantasy of absolute social collapse close to their hearts like a recurrent childhood daydream. Th casual indignities of daily life don't crush dreams; they raise dreams to th same level of reality as everyday life -- what is second lining but an elevation of dreaming to something we can watch walk down th street? By th same curious process, a simple beef gets raised to th level of war. NOLA @ its worst is a town in which a man treats another man's life carelessly. Two blocks from my house on 16 July, somebody murdered a man named Tremell Williams, 37, who'd come here from Los Angeles shortly before Katrina to meet his father for th first time and had decided to stay. According to th Times-Picayune, Williams worked as a janitor, had a history of borderline schizophrenia, and was a father to three. What's unclear is whether he knew he was pursuing his next career as a ghost. After shipping, oil refining, cultural tourism, health care, education, and film production, ghost manufacturing is NOLA's biggest business.

      My people are invisible here. Wikipedia says flippies make up 0.1% of New Orleans' population (compared to 1.1% nationally), and I've seen them w/ my own eyes only once, in Walmart (according to th wife) or Target (according to me), where we all were busy expressing our support for slave labour. My people never recovered from being conquered by white men -- th Spanish, then th Americans -- just as black Americans never recovered from being bought and sold by white Americans. Now that that history is remote enough that any return to an original state of dignity looks as absurd as it is impossible -- putting a Lapu-Lapu-style loincloth on and becoming a seafarer is no longer an option for most flippies -- "recovery" has but one definition: successful adaptation to a culture and economic system that weren't ours to begin w/. Th day after th hurricane ended I took a picture of some disaster workers in downtown NOLA loading gear into or unloading gear from a tractor trailer.

disaster recovery

They had on green t-shirts w/ th catchphrase "Like it never even happened" on th back, which reminded me of not learning from history and being doomed to repeat it. Th one guy who hammed it up for th camera ended up being th photograph's central figure.

      Consider th possibility that disaster recovery is a fiction -- that implicit in th idea of disaster is its transformative power -- that it erases boundaries, rewrites rulebooks, and changes one thing into another thing overnight. NOLA has recovered from Hurricane Katrina in th sense that it is still a beautiful place to live, but a city doesn't hemorrhage 100,000+ refugees and stay th same city. Blackness is down (from 67% to 60%). Tourists take bus tours through th still-shipwrecked Lower Ninth Ward. Post-Katrina economic development incentives have grown industries that pre-flood NOLA wasn't known for, most conspicuously th feature film business. If Katrina was like a forest fire that burns up underbrush and small trees to create forest clearings that help prevent more catastrophic fires, 100,000+ black people were th underbrush and small trees. Th big trees -- higher-income white people -- benefitted, as they tend to do. Consider th possibility that those who do learn from history aren't any less likely to repeat it than those who don't. What present conquerors learn from past conquerors is how to conquer better.

"It is the glory of white men to know that they have had these qualities in sufficient measure to build upon this continent a great political fabric and to preserve its stability for more than ninety years, while in every other part of the world all similar experiments have failed. But if anything can be proved by known facts, if all reasoning upon evidence is not abandoned, it must be acknowledged that in the progress of nations Negroes have shown less capacity for government than any other race of people. No independent government of any form has ever been successful in their hands. On the contrary, wherever they have been left to their own devices they have shown a constant tendency to relapse into barbarism." -- President Andrew Johnson, Third Annual Message, 3 December 1867

      Historians have typically rated Andrew Johnson in th bottom three of U.S. presidents. However, there's a sentiment in his statement on Negroes that persists through all of our presidents, including th present one -- and that is that black people are a special case, th one race of people who can't succeed w/o outside assistance. Conservative whites resent having to help blacks; liberal whites gladly shoulder their white burden; but neither reject th premise that blacks can't level up w/o white help.

      Here's a problem about talking about social equality: there are too many variables to keep in mind simultaneously. Th usual variables under discussion -- race, gender, sex, birth rates, crime rates, income, education, hiring discrimination, family structure, intelligence, personality, religious belief -- are all interconnected and acting on one another. Change one variable, and all th others shift to adjust, like a Rubik's Cube. We can solve one side of th cube fairly easily if we don't care about messing up another side. If we fix a second side, we mess up th first side. A city is a Rubik's Cube only God's hands can encompass, which is why David Simon can't suggest how to fix Baltimore on Th Wire. Everyone in that show -- cops, teachers, administrators, dealers, lawyers -- sees only one side of th cube @ a time. And yet th conventional political wisdom encourages a narrowness of focus: "Let's solve one problem at a time." Why is it that we accept complexity when we're playing Th Sims or Sim City; but when faced w/ real-world politics, our default response it to pick one of two teams, each of which is presented in dumbed-down, monochrome terms? Immigration is good or bad. Individual mandate health insurance is good or bad. Th alternative to that default binary approach is to do our own research on every issue, fact-check against multiple sources, track new evidence as it comes in, and calculate outcomes not only for ourselves but for th community as a whole. @ a certain point, such an effort stops being a civic responsibility and starts being a full-time job.

      To suggest that immigration (in and of itself) is neither good nor bad -- that immigration patterns have complex effects on a society, that certain of these effects are either good or bad for certain people in either th short or long term, and that th patterns themselves are sensitive to other dynamic social forces -- or that compulsory health insurance (in and of itself) is neither good nor bad, having complex effects dependent on specifics of implementation, enforcement, consumer culture, etc. -- is less likely to offend than to bore a potential ally. Racism, on th other hand, is exempt from boredom. No matter how sick Americans say they are of racial politics, they always seem to return to th trough. Racism is like yr mother and father, who never seem to lose their power to get under yr skin. Suppose somebody were to suggest @ a cocktail party that racism (in and of itself) is neither good nor bad. How fast somebody gets a drink (or a punch) in th face or a polite scolding will depend on whose party it is, but in any case th outcome probably won't be boring. What is it about race that gets under our skins? What is th THING?

      Th thing (not th THING) is that genetics is an exploding field now; in particular, th Human Genome Project's ongoing high-profile research both here and internationally has been unlocking genetic mysteries every day, which is why it's a little surprising that genetics is still a taboo subject in polite conversation -- a little but not totally surprising, since both whites and blacks (and browns, to a lesser extent) hinge their identities on racial opposition. "There is no such thing as a black person" doesn't make sense in casual conversation.

      Here's HGP's official word on race, issued in 2003:

"DNA studies do not indicate that separate classifiable subspecies (races) exist within modern humans. While different genes for physical traits such as skin and hair color can be identified between individuals, no consistent patterns of genes across the human genome exist to distinguish one race from another. There also is no genetic basis for divisions of human ethnicity. People who have lived in the same geographic region for many generations may have some alleles in common, but no allele will be found in all members of one population and in no members of any other."

We already knew that we were all one species; HGP's statement just confirms that any other subspecies of Homo sapiens are extinct. Only Homo sapiens sapiens remains.

      What we talk about when we talk about race is something different, then. (Keep in mind that if I knew what an allele was @ one point, I have completely forgotten and can't define race in those terms w/o further study.) I submit that what we're actually talking about is breeds, a term not defined by science. Domestic dogs, too, are all one subspecies, Canus lupus familiaris; but many different breeds exist w/in Canus lupus familiaris, and each breed has its own peculiarities. By that analogy, all humans are mutts; but just as some canine mutts resemble purebred dogs, some human mutts resemble white people. Some resemble black people. And although they're well capable of interbreeding, they more often mate w/ their own kind and thereby preserve th genetic characteristics of white mutts and black mutts. Now th question becomes, "As human breeds, how different are we from one another?" Th post-1960s American answer has been, "Not that different." In other words, we're all actually of th same mixed breed: black lab mix, yellow lab mix, and chocolate lab mix. Suppose, though, that we're more like rottweiler mixes, cane corso mixes, and German shepherd mixes -- they're all good dogs, but you had better know what you're doing if you put them all in th same yard.

"Strangely enough, they have a mind to till the soil, and the love of possession is a disease in them. These people have made many rules that the rich may break, but the poor may not. They have a religion in which the poor worship, but the rich will not! They even take tithes from the poor and weak to support the rich and those who rule. They claim this mother of ours, the Earth, for their own use, and fence their neighbors away from her, and deface her with their buildings and their refuse.

"We cannot dwell side by side. Only seven years ago we made a treaty by which we were assured that the buffalo country should be left to us forever. Now they threaten to take that from us also. My brothers, shall we submit? Or shall we say to them: 'First kill me, before you can take possession of my fatherland!" -- Sitting Bull, "Behold, My Friends, the Spring Is Come", from Robert Blaisdell's Great Speeches by Native Americans

      Sitting Bull was never going to make a good capitalist, but what of Sitting Bull's children's children? Lapu-Lapu, who killed Magellan, would not have enjoyed managing a call center or typing in his Internet diary's small, stupid box; but what of Lapu-Lapu's children's children's children? Are certain groups genetically predisposed to fail @ capitalism? If so, to what extent is capitalism itself inherited not only through legal instruments, but also through DNA? Th Human Genome Project probably won't answer these questions any time soon, which means that, in th meantime, those who pose them will have to endure accusations of science fiction lunacy.

"Even the most basic outline of his life shows how great he was, because he remained himself from the moment of his birth to the moment he died; because he knew exactly where he wanted to live, and never left; because he may have surrendered, but he was never defeated in battle; because, although he was killed, even the Army admitted he was never captured ... His dislike of the oncoming civilization was prophetic. He never met the President, never rode on a train, slept in a boarding house, or ate at a table and unlike many people all over the world, when he met white men he was not diminished by the encounter." -- Ian Frazier on Crazy Horse, from Great Plains

      Now whenever Neil Young and his band come up on shuffle, I wonder about what in heaven's name made them think it was a good idea to name themselves after a guy who refused to lie down on a bed when he was bleeding to death, because it was th white man's bed. On th one hand, that is precisely what white men do: de-radicalize people of colour by exalting them as cool. On th other hand, that is a cool name to have, and it's probably for th best that Neil Young and his mates got to it before anyone uncool did. On th third hand, fuck Neil Young and th horse he rode in on. A white friend who's a sociology professor @ a southern university told me that some of his students have been astonished to learn that Indians still exist and that they wear clothes as we do, and live in houses. Chris Hedges, who's prone to histrionics but also has a lot of good points, wrote recently that he feared that urban African-Americans might soon achieve American-Indian-like mythical status, too. If it hasn't already happened, a future noise band will name themselves Stanfield, Little, Barksdale, & Bell. If America has neutralized Malcolm X by putting him on a stamp, perhaps there's no person who can't be neutralized. Kill him. Put him on a stamp. Repeat.

Oliver Harrington da boss

      "Black people never got their Crazy Horse moment," I said to th wife as we waited out th storm in bed in a pet-friendly hotel in Jackson. "When th race war happens ..."
      "You don't seriously think there's going to be race war, do you."
      "Strange things happen. I mean, isn't it strange that there isn't one? Anyhow, if it happens, blacks will lose in a month, but it'll feel good. They'll call it Blacks History Month."
      "You better not be planning on dying with them."
      "Nah. They probably won't want me on their team, anyhow."
      "Because you married wrong."
      "Because owners of Chinese restaurants are always mean to them."

      Warfare: advantage, white people. Boxing: advantage, black people. Swimming: advantage, white people. Running: advantage, black people. Staying out of trouble and taking white people's and black people's dollars: advantage, Chinese restaurant owners. Law enforcement doesn't wiretap Chinese restaurant owners, who are as happy in Chinatown as they are in white suburbs. Meanwhile, one out of three black men goes to prison. Crime is th most powerful expression of black resistance to white America, but crime happens one man @ a time. It's as if black men have broken their war up into a million small pieces and spread it out over 150 years. Furthermore, th black man's war, through a perverse magick that resists anybody's grasp, manifests itself first and foremost as a civil war. As bitter, ugly, and sensational as black-on-white crime can be, it pales next to black-on-black crime's scale and casual, everyday brutality. Black criminals are their own parallel police and their own parallel judges and executioners working their way through a bottomless caseload w/ a violent, self-regenerating energy. An inner voice reminds them, "It beats having a desk job."

      Naturally, when faced w/ crime's de facto political activism, white people in polite conversation must de-politicize it, or re-politicize it through a white lens. Black men are behaving badly, they say, because black men are impoverished and unemployed. Black men lack hope because nobody has given them a chance because we're racists. It's our fathers' fathers' fathers' fault. These crimes are senseless, they say. Only through fictional characters are white people allowed to indulge their love affair w/ crime, their uncomfortable feeling that criminals' lives are sexier, more courageous, and more truthful than their own. In non-fictional life, white people celebrate MLK, President Obama, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali -- lawful (or civilly disobedient) blacks -- above all other blacks. Their enjoyment of thuggish behaviour by black athletes -- Iron Mike Tyson, Allen Iverson, Ron Artest, Dennis Rodman -- is modified by their admiration for those athletes' transcendent performances inside painted lines. Hip-hop provides an ideal soundtrack to white-on-black romance.

      What's lost in that romance is an honest interrogation of group differences. Embedded in anti-racism is an assumption that group differences can be attributed wholly to cultural factors -- that genetics will play no role in group performance. Therefore, if we can guarantee a level cultural playing field, what we ought to see is equal performance between one group and another. Th hypothetical level playing field will result in equality in every measurement -- economic, intellectual, physical, and artistic. If we don't observe equality in every measurement, we conclude that racism is to blame. No other conclusion is possible because race doesn't exist.

"You may have read that there is more genetic variation within major ethnic groups than between ethnic groups. That this precludes the possibility of group differences is Lewontin's Fallacy ...

"Deep sequencing of the human genome, which reveals rare variants (here, defined as those found in fewer than 0.5 percent of the population), shows that there is actually more variation between groups than within groups. (So what you may have been taught in school is not true -- sorry, that's how science works sometimes.) The figure below ... shows that over 50 percent of rare genetic variants are found in African populations (which have greater genetic diversity) but not in European populations. About 41 percent of all rare variants are found only in Europeans and not in Africans, and only 9 percent of the variants are common to both groups.

"These rare variants are likely recent mutations. Unsurprisingly, they differ in populations that have been geographically separated for tens of thousands of years." -- Steve Hsu, "Rare Variants and Human Genetic Diversity"

      What I submit is that anti-racist reasoning chases its own tail: lack of equal outcomes between races proves racism; racism proves lack of equal conditions between races; therefore, lack of equal outcomes proves lack of equal conditions between races. If group differences have a significant genetic component, anti-racism falls apart. Consider dog breeds: pit bull mutts will tend to have stronger jaws than greyhound mutts. Should we conduct a contest in which whoever can hold onto a rolled-up towel longest wins, pit bull mutts will tend to win more often than greyhound mutts. We can ensure equally nutritious diets, equally rigorous training, and equally loving homes for greyhound mutts. Against all odds, a greyhound mutt might win here and there; but greyhound mutts as a group will still tend to lose to their pit bull mutt rivals. Now suppose we revise th contest such that whoever sprints around a dirt track fastest wins.

      White people have been clutching capitalism's rolled-up towel for so long that they believe no other game is possible. They tell everyone that we are all pit bulls, and that one day black pit bull puppies and white pit bull puppies will go to obedience school together as one. Don't believe th hype. A criminal act is not an expression of powerlessness; it is an exercise of power, a momentary exchange of one game for another.

      My most humiliating memory of tutoring in an inner-city charter school is not when a student threatened to punch my face; it's when that same student mimicked my own voice back to me, giving it an inflection instantly recognizable as white person voice: "Now I want you to pay attention." Any illusion I might've had that he saw me as a person of colour disintegrated. Last week on th set of Spike Lee's remake of Oldboy, black extras and white extras self-segregated into distinct racial packs. Asians joined whites, predictably, except for one moody Filipino who decided to eat lunch by himself. When 1960s civil rights proponents toppled legal segregation, they must not have foreseen that 50 dust-settling years later, economic and voluntary segregation would be standing still, as if untouched. Desegregation failed. Now anti-racism is a pose whites put on to boost their scores relative to other whites in an escalating Enlightenment Olympics. You say that you don't fear a black planet. You say that that street you avoid is a little sketchy. You say that you hate th big box store that ruined th formerly-cool neighbourhood. You hide yr Facebook friend who's voting for Mittens. He's a racist. You say that you want to send yr child to a good school. Every twist of th kosmik Rubik's Cube launches Negroes further out of yr sight.

medgar evers driveway

      That's a picture of me in Medgar Evers' driveway in Jackson, MS, maybe six feet to th right of where he was shot in th back just after midnight on 12 June 1963 by a sniper hidden a block away in honeysuckle bushes. Evers, who'd come from a meeting w/ NAACP lawyers, got out of his car carrying t-shirts that read, Jim Crow Must Go. Police quickly arrested Byron De La Beckwith, a white supremacist and future Klansman whose fresh prints were found on th murder weapon. In 1964, Mississippi prosecutors failed twice to convict De La Beckwith of Evers' murder. Both trials ended w/ hung juries. Both juries were composed exclusively of white men.

medgar evers pilgrim

      In 1994, after De La Beckwith had walked around free for 30 years, Mississippi tried him again w/ new evidence. This time, De La Beckwith, 73, lost. He died in prison in 2001 @ age 80.

allow enough time

      Medgar Evers is a hero to most. If th court had handed th septuagenarian Byron De La Beckwith over to a mob of angry brothers for some cruel and unusual punishment -- say, a game of "strength tester" w/ a rubber mallet and De La Beckwith's bozack -- most people wouldn't feel terribly sad. Most people would say he deserved that, and most people would be right. Even so, either Medgar Evers guessed wrong about desegregation's effectiveness, or de facto segregation has grown for 50 years to keep pace w/ legal and cultural desegregation. President Obama presents this country's most stunning proof that a black man can beat white men @ their own game; but Medgar Evers' home state, America's blackest, ranks consistently in last place in per capita income and quality of education. Will anybody be surprised if in 2063, 100 years after Evers' sacrifice, Mississippi has made no progress on racial equality?


      Near Jackson's Ross Barnett Reservoir (affectionately known to locals as "The Rez"), th wife and I discovered a cypress swamp whose green scum shimmered. It's one of those places that suspends brain activity by exerting its own thickness on one's senses and instilling a desire to do nothing more than wallow like a pig in its green hot muck. It was here that a tall, pinched-faced white man wearing bro gear accosted us on th bridge to inform us that this cypress swamp paled in comparison to another cypress swamp about an hour's drive north of here. If you like this one, he raved, you'll love that one. Th wife and I became aware @ once that this man was a serial killer; that we'd caught him unawares; and that his friendly, unsolicited chatter was a misdirection: nearby, swamp bacteria began to feast on a fresh body.


      Wherever my knee-jerk mistrust for white people comes from -- whether I've earned it through poisonous experience, learned it from books, or inherited it genetically -- and it's probably all three -- what's undeniable now is that I've gotten somewhat attached to it. It has grown on me.


      It has grown w/ me. What's funny about chronic mistrust is that it flips itself into a Bizarro form of trust. Th experienced person of colour finds a transcendent calm in trusting in th white man's vanillainous nature. He trusts that th white man will stab him in th back. Bizarro white man him dear friend. My white friend S., whose journalistic inclination leads her through anxiety-inducing binges of questioning all received wisdom, told me that when she's in a city @ night and finds herself on a quiet block walking behind another person, sometimes she senses that person's mental tension, and den she sees it dissolve after they check over their shoulder and find that it is only a white girl. "I'm relieved when they're relieved," she said, "but there's another part of me that's offended, you know? It's like, 'You don't know me. What makes you so sure I'm not dangerous?' And I wish they were scared at least a little." Her statement echoes across two decades to form a call-and-response w/ an old civil rights veteran's:

"There is nothing more painful to me at this stage in my life than to walk down the street and hear footsteps and start thinking about robbery. Then look around and see somebody white and feel relieved ... After all we have been through. Just to think we can't walk down our own streets -- how humiliating." -- Jesse Jackson, remarks to Operation PUSH, Chicago, 27 November 1993

What everybody wants w/r/t race is to show their backs to other people. That's a faith-based initiative that becomes meaningful only when there's a non-zero probability of getting stabbed. What hurts people least is to hear footsteps and not turn around. My lack of faith in white people is qualitatively different from my lack of faith in black people, and both are distinct from my lack of faith in my own people. Whites won't not murder to get what they want. Blacks won't not suicide. Flippies won't not worship whites. What unifies these distinct strains of disbelief is my desire to be wrong.


      Th standard disclaimers regarding treating every individual as an individual do, of course, apply. Look close and closer. That freak is actually a geek. That geek is actually a lothario. That harmless person is actually a dangerous assassin. That pit bull is a pug. That asshole cat shows you belly when no one else is around. That zombie is a v. slow-moving man. That collection of non-human shapes is a family. That white woman is 1/16 Cherokee. That black president is half white. That swamp is a church. Nobody is behind you.


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07.  PATRICE O'NEAL "Race War" (7.6 MB) -- Last year we lost th greatest comedian o.a.t. because he wouldn't lay off of th chocolate cake.

Bonus tracks:
NEIL YOUNG "Song You Know but Might Not Recognize til th 19-Minute Mark" (85.9 MB) -- All is not forgiven, Crazy Horse, but I'd be lying if I told you that 37-minute space jams don't make me forget.

TAHITI "Tonight" (7.3 MB) -- When K-pop's most-overlooked anthem of 2012 says what sounds like "Report to the dance floor", that is actually Korean for "Never give up." This was Tahiti's debut single, and it must have bombed: they allegedly replaced three members immediately afterwards.

R.A. TH RUGGED MAN "Black and White" (5.2 MB) -- That one white rapper that's good

653660 on the possibility that evil was there first and good was added to thicken the plot

Do you try to 'pay it forward' when someone does something nice for you? What's the best example you've ever seen of paying it forward?

      When you were born, if you were lucky, yr parents loved you more than they had loved anything previous to you. They gave you a name that was good, a home w/ a backyard full of earthworms, and sincere attention every time you mastered a new idiotic skill. They taught you th value of a strong work ethic, and, over time, they helped make you proud of where you came from, and hungry for th future.


      Mebbe you were one of th unlucky ones. Divorced or shitty parents. Grew up poor, living in a shantytown in Manila. Absent father, micro-managing mother. Abusive father, weak father, abusive mother, mentally-ill mother, dead mother, dead father. No earthworms. You got dealt a bad hand, and now you're unhappy. You're a teacher, and you realized too late that you hate children. Maybe you're happy, in spite of everything. You're one of th unlucky, happy ones who pulled himself up by his bootstraps and now is floating, cross-legged, in mid-air. Alternately, you're one of th lucky, unhappy ones -- you work 90 hours a week @ a law firm that defends corporations in negligence suits. You hate th shower @ work because it reminds you of getting abducted and probed by aliens. You've had bad luck w/ women, bad luck w/ men. You've never liked yr face. You're an Internet addict. You're good w/ women, good w/ men, but you don't like anyone. You have a husband and a couple kids, and you don't love him @ all anymore, and th kids are getting to that age @ which everything their mother says or does is deeply irritating. You're a beautiful person. Why do some people end up happier than others? What are we doing talking about this?

      I'm sick today w/ chills and pulsating eye sockets. My sleep has been troubled.

      "I had a dream about an idea for world peace."
      "Yeah? Did you figure it all out?"
      "Sort of. I dreamed that a worldwide viral ad campaign succeeded in broadening th definition of power in th minds of th people."
      "How'd it do that?"
      "It revealed th truth about power."
      "Aren't you going to ask me what th truth about power is?"
      "Oh, I thought that was a dramatic pause. All right, what is it?"
      "All right, th truth about power is that everyone's got it, and everyone exerts their power multidirectionally."
      "All right ..."
      "It's a Newtonian conception of power: for every power there's an equal and opposite 're-power'."
      "Yeah I was always lousy @ physics. But stick w/ me. Imagine th upper class exerting power downward on th lower class. By th Newtonian understanding, th lower class also has to be pushing upward on th upper class. That's why th upper class are up there."
      "Do you mean to suggest that th lower class should use th upper class's own weight against it, like in judo?"
      "Hmm hmm flip th upper class over th underclass's shoulder? Maybe. I have to think about that some more. But basically th underclass are already doing that, in a way, exerting their powers in other directions besides upward. That's what crime is. Anyhow th main idea is that whoever's got power -- which again is everyone -- is capable of abusing that power. For instance I have power over you."
      "Yes, you do."
      "Likewise, because I love you, you have power over me. And what keeps our 'society' from self-destructing is that you're not trying to abuse your powers, and I'm not trying to abuse mine. Anyone who is friend or family to anyone else has power, and can't help but use power, but anyone who abuses power pushes th system toward destruction."
      "And how did that lead to world peace?"
      "I don't remember. I don't remember anything that happened in my dream except that so many light bulbs went on over people's heads that it solved th energy crisis. Th point is that understanding power on a personal scale -- power as people use it in small groups such as families -- helps us to understand power on larger scales. In fact, because personal power is th only sort of power most people have -- th only sort of power most people have abused -- it is most people's only window onto understanding abusive power in a non-abstract way. It ain't easy, though. Honest self-criticism never is. But if we're serious about world peace, we have just as much responsibility toward monitoring our own power as we do toward regulating how much power we give to others."


      Ever have one of those days when you're sick and everything might be make-believe? Ever look down th street you live on, and instead of houses, cars, telephones poles, and telephone wires, you see electromagnetic power flowing through th grid? And when you look @ people, instead of hearing language and seeing body movement, you see power flowing -- personal power, social power, emotional power. My wife's talking to me. It could be about Pinkman from Breaking Bad. All I see or hear are tendrils of benevolent pink energy growing out of her chest toward me, clasping me like cat fur on a cardigan. Yes, they're definitely pink. On th Internet everybody can't stop talking about rape for a month solid, and words aren't words anymore; they're capsules of mystical power, pills spilled out on a table waiting to be swallowed hmm hmm hmm hmm what does this red one do? It's an election year in America, and everything's gone political on th Internet. When I gave up Facebook for Lent, I missed Kony 2012, and by th time I came back to Facebook it was as if Kony 2012 had never existed. I can only assume that Kony is one of th lesser Tea Party candidates who, like Herman Cain, had to drop out of th race for penis-related reasons.

      Politics has gotten worse since then. My feed is composed mainly of liberals -- punks, dirty hippies, feminists, socialists, Democrats, weed enthusiasts, artists, vegetarians, environmental activists, and people who affect being apolitical but are liberal in overall effect -- w/ a smattering of conservatives (mainly Filipino-American Catholics) and moderates. Granted, my feed is a wild distortion of th American political scorecard, which seems to balance th numbers of D-voters and R-voters evenly enough that both sides get nervous around election time. However, most of what appears on my feed consists of one side demonizing th other, which is an accurate reflection of American political discourse and perhaps of public political discourse generally. It has been this way since time began, probably. Whatever lip-service we now might pay to non-dualistic interpretations of reality, not one among us is not deeply in love w/ th number 2 in one way or another. Our brains begin w/ Self and Other, and every idea in life proceeds from there, marching in lockstep: left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. Destroy one duality, and another, like a lizard limb, grows to take its place. We have a moderate for a president, but he is in office because liberals wanted him to be a liberal messiah. Naturally, conservatives call him a socialist. Meanwhile, moderates have gone th way of th American middle class as income inequality has deepened. Forgive my unreferenced generalizations for a minute. I'm painting a mural, not embroidering a kimono.

      One enviable advantage of 'hard' science is that its practitioners (if they're doing it right) have no particular attachment to their incumbent ideas. If a better model comes along, scientists have no choice but to discard their old, discredited models. However, when discussing race, class, gender, & social policy, people tend to go a long way out of their way to protect their incumbent ideas, even in defiance of scientific evidence. That's what we're seeing now w/ Congressman Akin, for instance; but neither liberals nor conservatives are immune to th gravitational force of their own accumulated ideology -- which means that moderates who enjoy tweaking both sides are, thanks to th miracle of th Internet, now living in a kind of Golden Age of limitless trolling potential, but a Dark Age for civilized conversation. Our intractable problem is this: we haven't figured out how to deal w/ people whose thinking runs counter to our own.

      Out of politeness, aesthetic preference, or a fear of confrontation, many of us move through everyday life avoiding political discussion. To me, trying to convince another person to accept one's own opinion, using words, is plainly barbaric. It is one thing to give one's opinion in a context where opinions are expected, or when asked; and another thing entirely to volunteer it out of context, when nobody asked. Of course th Internet has mucked up th boundaries of where to expect strong opinions. There's no fucking rules about who will be expressing them, and to whom they will be expressed, d00d. As much as people have celebrated th Internet's democratizing tendencies, only psychopaths would want th Internet's disrupting flammability translated into RL social norms. That both liberals and conservatives agree on him gives super-credibility to Adolf Hitler's evil. Conversely, Mad Men's popularity amongst both liberals and conservatives gives super-credibility to its goodness. Between those two poles, how many things do we ever actually agree on? President Obama is Hitler. Andrea Dworkin is Hitler. George W. Bush is Hitler. Michelle Malkin is Hitler. There are so many Hitlers on th Internet that no page could list them all. Internet Hitlers trouble my sleep. I wake from a troubled sleep and type little stories:

      Back in time, when David Foster Wallace was in high school or college, he was a sad fat kid whose family I knew. He was especially sad and especially fat when it wasn't tennis season, and he wore th bandanna even back den. Th bandanna started when he was eight years old and was a preemptive measure to keep sweat out of his eyes just in case he started to sweat profusely all of a sudden, which happened often enough that he felt he required a preemptive measure. He had two brothers, neither of whose faces I could recall, even if I looked away for only a second, and he had no sister, contrary to what you've read. After it became apparent to me that David was a future suicide, I began to hang out w/ him whenever th opportunity presented itself. He told me he had begun work on a novel that would end up in th neighbourhood of 6,000 pages long, and his dedication to it was heartening because there was no way he would kill himself before he completed it, would he? In th picnic pavilion where he liked to write longhand on a legal pad when it was raining, he showed me his notes & early drafts of th first several chapters. He was a margin doodler. In high school or college, David and I shared a biology teacher, a softhearted man of German descent who sported a red moustache and championed retarded people's rights. One night I snuck into his office after hours for no apparent reason and found a thick red binder full of students' completed assignments. They were all graded and should have been returned to th students, but he'd kept them. Each assignment had been doodled on by th student. Here was a doodle by me of a six-wheeled truck w/ a cannon mounted on it; it was an image I'd practiced drawing many times & felt v. comfortable w/. Here was another doodle by me of Mark Twain's face superimposed onto some math; perhaps my teacher thought it was a drawing of him. All men w/ moustaches look identical when you draw them. I flipped through th binder until I came to a doodle by David. It was interlocking strands of ivy crawling up a brick wall, creeping conspicuously away from th body of th assignment. Another page: another complex drawing of a plant carefully segregated from th page's text. Page after page of detailed flora bending itself into leftover spaces, a portfolio of shy shrubbery. I shut th binder, biked home, and cried my eyes out. My nanny when I was growing up was home, and she was crying, too. I thought, like a good narcissist, that it was because I was crying. But it wasn't. She knew that David Foster Wallace would die too soon, by his own hand. Infinite Jest was never published, and nobody knew about th plants until now

      If that story is a political allegory, don't tell me. I am not a sad person; I just wake up that way. Throughout th day I get happier, and by bedtime my happiness level is a bit too high, and it's time to reset. There's no telling what would happen w/o sleep. My brain and th Internet would become interchangeable, perhaps. Th other day on Facebook a Muslim woman said that she predicted, based on my statements, that I was a closet chauvinist. I told her that that was a decent prediction, except that for a person to be a closet anything, he has to be hiding it. Ask any of my female friends. I have refused to high-five them because I am a chauvinist. There's a catch, though, and it's th oldest catch in th book: everybody's a chauvinist to somebody. Everybody's got an Other. Historically, white Americans are black Americans' Other, and vice versa. Women are men's Other. Ex-girlfriends are current girlfriends' Other. Uncool people are cool people's Other. @ some point in American history, it became political suicide to admit to having an Other. We are all Americans, after all, under God, indivisible. Our Others didn't stop existing, of course; we didn't stop needing them; we simply weren't supposed to talk about them.

      We need them, though. For structural reasons, we need them. We need a category of people to whom we judge ourselves superior. Furthermore, for most people, it's not enough to be superior; it's necessary to dehumanize th Other. To ignore or de-emphasize whatever commonality might exist between Other and Self. To discredit th Other's ways via reductio ad absurdum. Please deposit all post-structuralist arguments here; we'll bat that volleyball back and forth until one of us has won. (That person will be called "th winner"; th Other will be called "th loser".) What happens when historical Others are expunged from th official language is that dominant forms of Otherism (racism, sexism, classism) go underground, or @ least get localized, euphemized, and sublimated. To fill th structural gap in official discourse, socially-acceptable forms of Otherism rise to greater prominence. Thus: cons versus libs. Christians versus atheists. People w/ kids versus people w/o kids. Uncool people versus cool people. Facebook versus Twitter. Miami Heat fans versus fans of all other teams. Every form of Otherism fractalizes such that in smaller and smaller subdivisions of groups, we allow finer and finer distinctions of Self and Other to exist. Th debates between Miami Heat fans whose favourite player is Dwyane Wade and those whose favourite player is Lebron James are probably not all that heated, but they represent only one of a million small inputs that help define a person's individuality and encourage him to identify w/ himself above all Others.


      Speaking of heated debates, about a year ago, a good friend remarked to me that she noticed a THING about my Internet behaviour:

      "In general I feel that you love this kind of Thing, but I can't even express what the Thing is. What is the Thing?"
      "Could you be more specific."
      "I mean, is the Thing art that upsets people? Is the Thing someone who expresses viewpoints that make people's heads explode?"
      "It depends. Not all art that upsets people is created equal."
      "Yes, of course. But you like Dave Sim, right?"
      "Ever since I was a young lad."
      "And his art upsets people, and --"
      "But that's not why I like it."
      "But that's part of it, no?"
      "Guilty as charged."
      "Is it somehow related to your love of flaming? Does it have something to do with political correctness, like, feminism, racism, whatever? I mean, these kinds of discussions make me nervous. In fact, I sorta hate that we're talking about this right now -- though I do think it's valuable. You on the other hand seem to really enjoy it. What's the Thing?"

gin & catatonic

      Let's examine for a moment th sad case of Dave Sim, which is sad really only if you grew up in th 1980s reading and loving his brilliant comix work Cerebus -- th 6,000-page serial story of an anthropomorphic aardvark who was modelled initially after Conan th Barbarian but who, in th course of his adventures (and Sim's growing sophistication as a storyteller), becomes prime minister of a powerful city-state, and den pope of a patriarchal religion, and den catatonic drunk, and den ... well, I stopped reading after a certain point and haven't found out yet, except that Cerebus certainly dies as prophesied: "alone, unloved and unmourned". Along th way, he kills countless people w/ a sword; gains wealth through brutal or dishonest means; rapes a chained-up female politician; and, as Pope, throws a baby as far as possible from th steps of a hotel into a crowd of th faithful. It's as if Cerebus doesn't know how not to abuse power, even when he has none (see: chapters on alcoholic catatonia). It's as if Sim wants to test our loyalty to his protagonist @ every turn, stretching reader identification to th thinness of a cord of spit right before it detaches from a mouth, abusing authorial omnipotence. Sympathy manipulation isn't a new trick; however, in 1994, not long after his epic's halfway point, Sim one-ups his protagonist's unsympathetic brinkmanship when he inserts his own taboo political views into th narrative in a way that forecloses any possibility of divorcing Sim th author from Sim th person. In short, he outs himself as a male chauvinist earth-pig -- an anti-feminist. A misogynist, if you prefer, though he and his supporters would argue that to conflate anti-feminist w/ anti-woman is itself anti-woman.

      Debate over incriminating labels aside, Sim's lengthy tirades against feminism resulted in dramatic negative consequences for his career as a cartoonist. Whereas superhero artists sublimate their sexist attitudes by drawing female characters in weird poses that accentuate their tits and asses, etc., Sim flat-out admitted, in unleavened essay form, that he thinks that a woman is essentially different from a man, and that she is best suited to a supporting role to a man's creative and industrious role. Sim's colleagues in th industry were not amused, and many readers stopped buying his comix immediately. He was able to finish his epic serial in 2004, but @ a much lower circulation than in his pre-anti-feminist days. I'm told that th latter half of th story is boring -- which wouldn't surprise me given that polemicism tends to be boring -- which might explain why so many boring people rise to power in government -- but whether his readers left out of boredom or outrage, th ascendance of Sim's politics mirrored th decline in Cerebus's popularity. Meanwhile, Sim's contemporaries of comparable stature and accomplishment -- e.g., Los Bros Hernandez, Daniel Clowes, Jim Woodring, Chris Ware, and Joe Sacco -- have all gone on to greater public recognition, while Eastman & Laird, creators of another set of iconic 1980s anthropomorphic animals who use swords, have become millionaires. Of course, th Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles never once got on a soapbox. On a simpler, more harmonious, and blissfully apolitical Earth-Two, there's a Cerebus who got six seasons and a movie and never stopped being a barbarian.

      Mebbe th THING is sadism or masochism, or mebbe, just mebbe ... there is no THING. Mebbe it's avoidance of difficult, thorny subjects that's th THING. Mebbe normal everyday conversations are what's boring, and topics that get people's dander up drive us as a species closer to truth. What makes some people end up happier than others? What is happiness? It's a moment before you need more happiness. You ever hear one person call another person a lying sack of shit? Oh. Every day, eh? Well, that's that moment when shit just got real. That's that moment when th Other stopped being human and started being an inanimate object filled w/ disgusting (also inanimate) material. That's that moment when one human, in a moment of supreme frustration, lost a measure of faith in humanness. Now recall th Newtonian conception of power from my dream. If one person has used his power to transform another person into a sack of shit -- to dehumanize th Other -- what is th Other's equal-but-opposite reaction? That's right, th sack of shit has transformed his opponent into th ultimate dehumanizer: Hitler.

      All right, now that we've solved th mystery of th proliferation of Internet Hitlers, there's only one place to go: RL case studies. I shall now offer myself up as Patient Zero in an investigation of th Internet Hitler Theory of Social Dynamics.

      "How does a man come out as a racist to his friends w/o becoming a total social outcast?"
      "Don't your friends already know, though?"
      "Yes ah reckon. I mean I've said, 'I'm a racist' point-blank before."
      "But they don't believe you for real, do they."
      "No ah don't suppose they do."
      "Because you're brown."
      "Because I make jokes. Comedians are th only ones who are allowed to be racist or sexist. And yeah because I'm brown."
      "That's a bit racist, don't you think."
      "That white people won't let a brown man be as racist as them? Yeah, a bit."
      "Why don't you write about it on your Internet diary."
      "Hmm hmm hmm hmm convince them that I'm a racist, using words ... Give 'em a bit of th old show-don't-tell, eh?"
      "Nobody will ever disrespect your racism again."

      In th car, th wife helped me brainstorm a list of my favourite topics, th stuff that least bores me. Her input was important because she's th only one who has an all-access pass to my most abrasive, most uncalculated moments. It went something like this:

01. racism
02. feminism
03. comix
04. how to pick up chicks
05. narcissism
06. white people
07. Tea Party people
08. attractiveness/genetics
09. fat people
10. nerds
11. th Internet
12. time travel
13. Jesus
14. money/business/economics
15. lying
16. sex

Now let's run down th list in a way that is calculated to irritate liberal sensibilities but is not, I promise you, a joke:

01. Racism
      Many years ago when I had exactly th same brain as I have now, my favourite band were a post-hardcore outfit from Washington, D.C. named Fugazi, who once sang,

Yes I know this is politically correct
But it comes to you
Spiritually direct
An attempt to thoughtfully affect your way of thinking
That is if you believe in race
And that you were born in the right time and place
This is a thought
About face your way of thinking
Your way of
Your way of
Your way of
Your way of

Now in that song they didn't go so far as to tell me what I ought to be thinking, but you don't understand how much I loved that band (and still love them): if Fugazi thought I ought to rethink my thoughts on race, I sure as hell was going to do that. Of course, American education being what it is, I'd already received a heavy dose of anti-racist indoctrination; but I'd also grown up w/ a lot of redneck friends whose attitudes on race fell outside of textbook platitudes. These redneck kids were also some of th nicest, most generous, most candid human beings I've known. They weren't cool, though; and Fugazi were. Guess whose attempts to thoughtfully affect my way of thinking dominated my college and high school years? I'd gone to school w/ black kids throughout grade school, middle school, and th first half of high school. They were mostly good kids, too, w/ a small handful of bad seeds thrown in -- no big deal, there were bad seeds amongst th white kids, too. In th second half of high school I transferred to a rich public high school that had no black kids and v. few rednecks. Despite its liberal atmosphere, it was as if nobody there had ever met a black kid. Meanwhile, I'd never met a black kid who was on my level of intelligence. I'd not thought of black kids as dumb, just not quite as smart. Until college. In college all of a sudden there were quite a few black people around who were as smart or smarter than I was, which event coincided conveniently w/ my Fugazi-inspired overhaul of my way of thinking. @ th same time, my school had also accepted some black students who were well below th school's general academic standard -- my introduction to affirmative action. Today I am a racist in th Fugazian sense: I believe in race. Black people are better @ basketball, and only part of that can be reasonably chalked up to socioeconomic conditioning. White people are better @ conquering. Th stats get mucked up because we're not like purebred dogs. We're all mutts. But just because mutts exist doesn't mean that race doesn't exist for dogs. Different breeds have different strengths and weaknesses. Different mixes of breeds have different mixes of strengths and weaknesses. Of course ultimately we must judge any dog as an individual, which doesn't mean we can't predict what a dog will be like based on his breed, but we have to allow that our prediction could be wrong. If I'm a b-ball team captain and I don't know anything about these two guys of similar height and build besides that one's white and one's black, and I don't have access to any further intelligence, my money's on th one who more closely resembles Lebron James. Th choice would be reversed if th sport were swimming, livejournal, or colonialism. Jury's still out on whether I was born in th right time and place.

duck egg

02. Feminism
      Best thing about feminism: greater options for what kind of woman a woman is allowed to be. Worst thing: privileging of options that are traditionally unfeminine ("strong") @ th expense of options that are traditionally feminine ("weak"). Top three structural weaknesses of feminism: 3) feminists not reproducing fast enough to keep up w/ non-feminists; 2) general unfuckability of feminist men; 1) hot chicks ...... Now let's dip into th correspondence archive:

Dear Manuel,

I find myself increasingly (and especially on th Internet) surrounded by unpleasant, unfeminine women (except for th wife) who insist that anyone who hasn't bought in to feminism must not have thought it through yet, and is therefore asking for incoherent multiple-paragraph explanations

Anyhow, carry on as you were, pare

Love, MZA


Querido MZA,

I just don't get it. I mean, as a father of a little girl, I want her to have all the opportunities she can possibly have, and early feminists certainly played a role in giving her more possibilities than my mom had growing up.

I understand that there are still some women's issues that there is still some ground to gain on, but the way women like that hammer it so hard is just so disproportionate to what's actually at stake. I think the challenges these days aren't so much institutional, but cultural. There's not really a "power" to fight, but rather things like body-image issues and the attitudes of boys and teens who are growing up with access to porn that you and I never had.

Feliz Navidad,


Dear Manuel,

th ballgame now is a wholly different one from th one th early feminists were playing. Now college-attending women outnumber college-attending men 3 to 2. Feminism now can't be about equality if it wants to retain its urgency, so it finds other things to fuel th outrage engine

Yr daughter will be in good shape, as she has a father who loves her. It's a stereotype, but it's true -- th craziest chicks tend to be th ones w/ weak, overly-permissive, or absent fathers

Love, MZA


Estimado MZA,

Yup. There are times where I worry about the balance between being stern and being permissive, but then I comfort myself with the thought that if I'm worrying about that, chances are I'm doing it right.

Un fuerte abrazo,


Dear Manuel,

well it's like this: most post-Boomer parents are v. concerned w/ being liked by their kids -- TOO concerned. It's v. narcissistic if you ask me. Good parents know they have to sacrifice some short-term likeability in order to prepare their daughters or sons for th world, which is a brutal world. They put themselves second because they have to teach their kids useful things. Th beauty part is that in th long-term, th kids end up loving their parents all th more for it -- but you're not allowed to think about that until yr job of parenting is completed

Just two cents from a childless man,


Bonus track: did you know that Pussy Riot, in clear violation of th memo that seems to have been circulated to all American feminists, are v. thoughtful, cool, and eloquent, and aren't merely preaching to th choir? Check 'em out: eng_pussy_riot ...

03. Comix
      Comix are our greatest art form. Nobody's better @ drawing than good comix drawers. Nobody understands th language of bodies better than cartoonists do. Too bad they are all chained to desks in damp rooms, producing truth @ 9 frames per 86,400 seconds.

"When you read prose -- especially nonfiction -- you’ll find that sometimes they’re trying so hard in paragraphs and sentences to create a mental picture of physical relationships. Like, how locks and dams work, or something like that. You just think, 'Oh, this plus a diagram would be so helpful.' Just in terms of understanding it -- seeing it in your head more quickly." -- Kevin Huizenga

"Reading American Flagg! as comics felt like getting a broadcast from someplace else and watching it on a broken, filthy, slapped-together computer screen. For once, the content of a comic book overwhelmed the delivery system instead of playing down to it." -- Tom Spurgeon

04. How to Pick up Chicks
      In sixth grade I was starting to learn how to pick up chicks. And den in th middle of th year I got moved up a grade, and th whole game changed because seventh-grade chicks were more physically mature than sixth-grade chicks, which was v. weird for me, not to mention totally awkward, and that set my progress back by about a million years. For a long time after that I was terrible @ picking up chicks. But I got older and more experienced, and w/ each new experience w/ a chick I learned a new thing or two. Gradually I got better @ picking up chicks, going from "terrible" to "pretty bad". Five years ago, my dear friend wedrinkbitter lent me Neil Strauss's book about picking up chicks, Th Game, saying that I had to read it because it was hilarious. He was right -- it was hilarious, and not only that. Curious about th techniques Strauss recommended in th book -- and recognizing that I'd already been using some of them (consciously and subconsciously) in my previous efforts to pick up chicks -- I started testing them out on RL chicks. In a nutshell: they worked, and now I am pretty good @ picking up chicks -- not a master, but pretty good. Thanks to being married, I now have to tone down my pickup skills for fear of picking up chicks against my will. If you are a single heterosexual man in need of advice on how to pick up a chick, consider hiring me for free. Specialty: chicks aged 20-30 who speak English and are smart, cool, and white.

05. Narcissism
      You know how AIDS has decimated Africa? Narcissism is America's AIDS.

"More and more I’m finding that I can’t bear going over things in my head. Now that it’s on the page it would be nice to move on. But the crucial thing to remember is that it’s all stories. Whether they happened to me or somebody else or didn’t happen at all is not the important thing. The finished work is what counts. It’s like using photo reference. If it makes the work better, then it’s a good thing. Using real events is good if it makes better art. Changing events is good if it makes better art. It’s not good if all it does is prevent hurt feelings. If I’ve used an event from real life it’s because I know I could never make up things that say what that event says. It’s like using a photo to get the turn of an ankle looking right, or the exact way things reflect in an eyeball. The only thing that matters is the work on the page." -- Eddie Campbell on writing autobiographical stories

06. White People
      My love/hate relationship w/ white people has been well documented in earlier chapters of my novel. White people are great; there's no denying th list of great things they have done, which is endless: th U.S. Constitution, "God Only Knows", Mad Men, th Internet ...... They are v. genius @ organizing things: systems, people, machines, books. But they are no good @ leaving well enough alone. Brown people, you must never trust white people. Freedom that th white man gives you is not freedom. Never trust him, and never underestimate him. He is a wolf, remember that. You can bring a wolf puppy into yr home, and he will seem like a normal dog you can love, but sooner or later his wolf nature will assert itself.

"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty ... And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure." -- Thomas Jefferson

07. Tea Party People
      Libertarianism is retarded. Not in th sense of not being intelligent, but in its misperception of human nature as being rational. Get yr nose out of that damn book and look around you, libertarians.

08. Attractiveness/Genetics
      When I was a child visiting th Philippines w/ my parents, I used to wonder why rich Filipinos were, on average, much better-looking than poor Filipinos -- although some poor Filipinos were also good-looking, just a bit rougher and darker. Obviously, th best-looking women will tend to choose th richest men, right? But what's w/ th difference in complexion? Which came first, th whiteness or th money? How does a poor man get a hot wife? Over time, wouldn't "th rich get richer" also mean that "th good-looking get better-looking"? Wouldn't th poor get uglier, too? Are we headed toward some kind of apocalypse in which th rich neighbourhoods are inhabited by light-skinned angels, and th shantytowns are haunted by dark brown monsters? In college, as an anthropology major -- my liberal "anarchist" period -- I was introduced to th idea that beauty might be a cultural construct. It seemed plausible @ th time, and I used that idea to broaden my taste in beauty. But it wasn't a powerful enough idea to turn unattractive girls attractive or turn attractive girls unattractive. To claim total relativity -- "eye of th beholder" -- would be to advocate an intellectual dishonesty. Beauty is real in th way that race is real -- not as an absolute standard, but as an aggregate of human behaviour over a population. Because it is a more accurate predictor of human behaviour, beauty is more real than race.

09. Fat People
      I've dated a few fat girls. You could say I've been a bit of a chubby chaser. Some fat girls are v. beautiful and have that thing about them that makes you want to fuck right now. Have you heard th one about fat girls and scooters, how they are fun to ride as long as yr friends don't find out? That's not how I feel. Curves are good. General formlessness is not good -- or, rather, not my thing -- though I see that it is some people's thing, on th Internet. It was Maggie from Love & Rockets who alerted me to th hotness of fat girls, and she is imaginary. She has a lot of curves, and if you saw her in Walmart, she probably wouldn't look that fat next to a lot of th women in there. America is too fat -- men and women -- and our First Lady Michelle Obama ought to be applauded for confronting th problem in a no-nonsense way, instead of pretending that it is not a problem, as many people do.


10. Nerds
      Nerds, like white people, have brought us a good many great things. Female nerds break my heart w/ their nerdy concerns and their refusal to let go of fashions from earlier eras. Why don't male nerds know how to talk to women? Women always want male nerds to shut up in th same way that men always want screeching feminists to shut up.

11. Th Internet
      Talking shit about th Internet while you're on th Internet is like turning off or unplugging yr machine while Windows is busy updating itself. Take me out for a panini and a sweet tea. We'll talk shit about th Internet.

12. Time Travel
      I have nothing controversial to say about time travel @ this time. Try th past or th future.

13. Jesus
      You ever wonder if th masochism of liberals all goes back to th Christian model of forgiveness? That is, Jesus theoretically bears all of humankind's sins so that people can be reunited w/ God, sin-free. White people of a certain temperament also want to bear th sins of others, even when to do so is impractical, ineffectual, or even unjust -- why? Is it an actual desire to emulate Christ -- to suffer so that their slave-owning ancestors may somehow be granted access to heaven? Is it a subconscious admission that black people are their enemies, and this is how they obey Jesus' instruction: "Love your enemies"? Or is it Option C: pure narcissism. "Hating my own race might be painful, but @ least it keeps th narrative centered on me." Remember, our pictures of Jesus make him look like a damn hippie.


14. Money/Business/Economics
      Listen, I love to listen to learned people shoot th shit about economics about as much as a non-economist can; and I love that our presidents have economists advising them, and that they don't make monetary & fiscal policy decisions by playing Pin th Tail on th Donkey w/ various growth charts; but I'm not sure we can trust economists to have all th relevant variables in their heads when they make their calculations. Human stuff is an asspain. Too many variables. How many economists predicted th current recession? Paul Krugman and who else? If th world's best economic minds either couldn't predict it or couldn't do anything to stop it, what are they good for? That ought to give you a chill.

"... [T]he researchers found that two trends dominate the data on political instability. The first, which they call the secular cycle, extends over two to three centuries. It starts with a relatively egalitarian society, in which supply and demand for labour roughly balance out. In time, the population grows, labour supply outstrips demand, elites form and the living standards of the poorest fall. At a certain point, the society becomes top-heavy with elites, who start fighting for power. Political instability ensues and leads to collapse, and the cycle begins again.

"Superimposed on that secular trend, the researchers observe a shorter cycle that spans 50 years — roughly two generations. Turchin calls this the fathers-and-sons cycle: the father responds violently to a perceived social injustice; the son lives with the miserable legacy of the resulting conflict and abstains; the third generation begins again. Turchin likens this cycle to a forest fire that ignites and burns out, until a sufficient amount of underbrush accumulates and the cycle recommences." -- Laura Spinney on Peter Turchin, Nature, 01 August 2012

"The problem isn't that the Decline Effect happens in science; the problem is that we think psychology and ecology and economics are sciences. They can be approached scientifically, but their conclusions cannot be considered valid outside of their immediate context." -- The Last Psychiatrist

15. Lying
      We lie all th time, which certainly makes Jesus cry, but th trick is not to eliminate lying from our diets. We lie sometimes for fun, after all, and we don't want to throw that babby or other possible babbies out w/ th stinking, lying, truth-hating bathwater. Th trick is not not to use our power to lie, but rather not to abuse our power to lie. Consider th trust of our fellow human beings. Are we abusing it? Conversely, we must not expect people to tell th truth @ all times and den act outraged when we are lied to. Pay attention to people. Get good @ reading them. Check people's deeds for congruence w/ their words.

Dear Aztec Warrior:

This letter is in reply to your Craigslist casting call of 7/2, requesting HISPANIC TYPES.

Please consider me for a background role in Aztec Warrior. If it is half as exciting as Black Dynamite, it will totally rock people's worlds.

Attached you will find a few snapshots of me.


T.H. Mza
Age: 28
Height: 5'8"
Weight: 140 lb
Available for shooting days, nights, weekdays, weekends

16. Sex
      Excerpt from an exceptionally stimulating recent exchange w/ a dear friend:

Who is someone that women want to fuck? Javier Bardem? It's true, most women will never fuck Javier Bardem. Yr Javier Bardems, yr Brad Pitts, and yr Leonardo Dicaprios are inaccessible to all but th most attractive women. Women aren't dumb, they know that, so they will adjust their standards downward. But they still try to fuck th highest-status men available to them. If they have access to a super-high-status man -- such as an NBA player or a rock star -- even for one night -- many, many ladies will cast their slut-shame to th wind for that one night. If they can get long-term commitment from such a man, even better. Th point is not that all women can get whatever they want from whomever they want. Th point is that they can, and do, get sex more easily than men do. Conversely, a male fan waiting backstage @ say, a Beyoncé concert has zero probability of getting a blowjob from Beyoncé.

You're absolutely right, women's sexual freedom has a more chaotic effect on th current social order than men's sexual freedom. Religion has many purposes, and preserving th current social order, or @ least slowing down changes to that order, is one of them. But there are many, many mechanisms besides religion that contribute to our sexual values, and some of them are even more resistant to change than religion. For instance: feelings of repulsion, attraction, feelings of jealousy, desire for privacy. Why do men and women have these feelings? I know I've had these feelings since before I could speak. Why am I attracted to beautiful women w/ a certain waist-to-hip ratio? Why are women attracted to powerful men? These desires, multiplied by a population, exert pushes and pulls that religion, ideology, and even morality can't stop, but only hope to contain.

camera over there

      All right. Done reading that mess? Good. While reading th 16 case studies above, how many times did you mentally call me out as an Internet Hitler? None? We're BFFs. Twice? You're probably a white, libertarian retard. Six? Good job, you're a cookie-cutter American liberal. Sixteen? Aawwww, get heavily loved, you lying sack of shit.


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08.  DENNIS BROWN "Sitting & Watching" (8.0 MB) -- Song I heard while driving down Magazine St w/ th wife & Billy Ray. Th weird bird sound captivated me initially, but Brown's sweet singing is what keeps me loyal.

Bonus track:
WONDER GIRLS "Like This" (7.6 MB) -- When talk fails, as it inevitably will, jest show 'em how it's done.

652660 picture a god who hates writing and has never written a goddamn word

You're having guests for the weekend -- what one local restaurant is at the top of the list for your visitors, and what dishes will you be recommending? (Links to the restaurant's website always welcome, in case readers are ever in your area!)

      Which is worse: not getting th thing you want, or not wanting it? Which is worse: being too dumb to know when people are poking fun @ you, or being too much of a pussy to poke back? Which is worse: living a lie, or wearing a hat everybody hates? Which is worse: telling two funny jokes and one unfunny joke every day, or telling two funny jokes per week and not having anything funny to say th rest of th time? Which is worse: losing because you're clumsy, weak, slow, and lousy @ shooting; or getting upset because thousands of drunks are waving foam #1 hands for no reason? Which is worse: a backache after a job well done, or a baby who looks exactly like you except 11x cuter?

      Come down to NOLA. We'll hash out th answers over beers and boudin balls @ Boucherie. We'll blast bounce music out a black 2008 Dodge Magnum's boomin' system and yell @ BBWs on Bourbon St. We'll blow bouncers and get backstage @ D'Angelo's big comeback. We'll boogie to Rebirth Brass Band and abolish th binary systems that have long bamboozled our brothers and sisters. We'll watch Battlestar Galactica instantly on Netflix. Whatever we're in th mood for, bro. I'm never bored, but I won't guarantee you won't be bored sitting next to me on th streetcar, reading people's tattoos, sweating. It's steamy here. Today it's 80°F w/ 84% humidity: not bad. People mention th weather when they don't want to get involved in any real talk. Remember that. Whenever you hear about th weather, you aren't getting th full scoop. That person is hiding something. Which is worse: a Christian lie, or th whole truth? Which is worse: becoming a better person through sweat and honesty, or committing suicide?

      Sometimes I try to do voices because I don't want to be my same old self:

-- and den I remember that hating yrself is not only a cliché but also th easiest way of absolving yrself of becoming a better person. Why waste time trying to better th life of somebody you hate? @ th same time, hating yrself is a way of saying, "This is mine." This thing is mine, not yrs, and I can hate it if I want. In fact, I will defend my God-given right to hate it, in spite of whatever benefit might accrue to th world from my not hating it. Don't slink down into yr chair, Internet addict. Everyone can see you.

      My wife might tell you that I love hating myself right in th middle of doing normal everyday activities that ought to be unrelated to feelings of self-hate. While eating a fancy meal. While eating a mediocre meal. While cracking up @ a vid of a small child hyperventilating each time his mother brings a spoonful of yogurt close to his face. While feeding Kevin. While updating. While watching bad things happen on Mad Men. While engrossed in histories of obscure famous people on Wikipedia. While falling asleep against my will. While mentioning weather. "I hate myself." But not while sleeping, and not while getting paid for walking an Australian shepherd. It's not just getting paid; it's not just walking; and, as much as I love Australian shepherds, it's not just their company that makes me forget I hate myself. It's something about th three factors in combination.

"If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve (or save) the world and a desire to enjoy (or savor) the world. This makes it hard to plan the day." -- E.B. White

      Consider White's comment as a politicization of th fundamental personal grudge match: th you you might be (YYMB) versus th you you are (YYA). In this ongoing struggle, "I hate myself" may be used as a weapon by both sides but, oddly enough, is almost always employed to defend or fortify th YYA. I hate myself; therefore it's hopeless; therefore I'm going to keep going th way I'm going. I hate myself becomes a convenient container for every personal flaw we're too chickenshit to face. I hate myself evades responsibility. I hate myself evades hatred by others. Too late, haters, I got here first. I hate myself cleverly dodges social expectations that we treat others kindly and fairly. Remember, how can I love others if I hate myself? I hate myself becomes th socially acceptable way of saying, "I love myself the way I am, and fuck you for trying to change me."

      An ex-girlfriend once accused me of being depressed. "That's funny," I said, "I don't feel depressed. And besides, why should a person try to label himself that when there are people out there who are genuinely suffering and genuinely killing themselves or otherwise trying to leave this world though various addictions and delusions? For all I know, I'm just being lazy." And that's th thing, right? Yr girlfriend doesn't want to think you're just being lazy. She'd prefer that you were depressed and that something outside of you could help you -- her or a pill. You probably don't want to think it's just you being lazy, either. Hell, you probably prefer to think it's not you @ all; it's something external to you. Something you can hate.

      Th YYA doesn't give a damn either way. Th YYA loves itself and wants to keep existing, and who are you, anyway? You're just a container for this thing that has existed since you were a child, when yr personality first assumed a shape that other people could recognize. You might evolve and grow (and grow up), or you might only think you grew because th YYA told you so. Actually, th YYA is enjoying that you have not grown; you still fit him like a glove, like a favourite sweater. Th YYA wants you to get nostalgic, to revisit th past and figure out what went wrong or what went right. Th YYA wants you to imagine infinite alternate futures involving living on a boat, a mountain, in a ski chalet, on an island, a farm, in a big yurt w/ sled dogs. One way or another, you'll be too paralyzed by yr own reflection to notice th YYMB, uncontained and underfed.

      According to Filipino old wives, th first time a babby rolls over, th parents have to put a book on his back -- a Bible if you want him to be a good Christian, a biology text if you want him to be a doctor, Moby Dick if ... etc. My folks put a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 on my back, and things ain't been right since. I'm telling you this so that we're both clear that nothing has been my fault. My parents screwed up; bipolar disorder runs in my family; America doesn't care about black people; people on TV (especially meteorologists and sportscasters) speak to me directly; 1% of Americans control 99% of what people on my Facebook feed talk about; girls hated me when I was nicer; my dog ate my senior thesis; my roommate committed suicide; God and science don't thrust both great power and great responsibility upon teenagers (i.e., superheroes); and I hate myself or "hate myself" or "hate" myself or hate my "self".

"No, you know what it is, it's more isolating when you sit down to do a painting, because you're alone with the canvas, and you usually have to keep people out of the room, even animals. And with a film, if you're making a film, especially with people in it, there's people in there, there's locations and stuff, and it's a really social exercise, in a way it's healthier. That's why you see sometimes a lot of comix that are made that you realize you're going into the person's brain, you realize that the mind can be a terrible cesspool, and when there's just somebody alone with the paper and it's all spilling out ... and the strange thing about movies is [that] somewhat the cesspool is like sweetened or disinfected a little bit by the fact that you're dealing with other people, and therefore the actual stink is mellowed a bit." -- George Kuchar

      Which is worse: being depressed, or having no excuse for being an evil human being? Which is worse: being evil, or being mediocre? A diary, even a fictional one such as this one, ought to help its author answer questions, not just generate new idiotic ones. If, in dissecting th recent or distant past, th diary fails to yield wisdom for future reference -- if it is a mere container for circular narration -- it ought to be abandoned. Find a different container for th YYMB. Consider th spectacular array of containers we fill. God's imagination contains th universe. Man's imagination contains God. Th brain contains man's imagination. Th body contains th brain. Th universe contains th body. Behold! Body as container for genetic code. Body as container for desire. Womb as container for babby. Vagina as container for penis. One man's anal canal as container for other man's penis. Prayer as container for our most private thoughts. Fiction as container for our most private thoughts. Politics as container for personal relationships. Culture and religion as containers for morals. Morality as container for survival instinct of human species. Sleep as container for dreams. Picture a game of chess in which Russian dolls have replaced normal chess pieces; and the dolls' boundaries are porous, such that dolls are continually falling out of dolls and into other dolls; and sometimes th dolls overlap, Venn-diagram-style. Picture trying to win, but you can't tell pawn from queen. That's human wisdom's condition, Rodney. That's why we can't all get along.

"I've always thought that comics are the most apt metaphor for the relationship between God and His creations and the structure of existence, especially with regards to the physics of space and time. The sequence of panels and the progression of the characters through them mirrors the way our consciousness moves through individual moments. In the same way, that we're looking down at these characters on a two-dimensional page -- who are really just pen and ink lines (used to flesh out the ideas of the characters and make them 'real') in the clinical and objective sense of 'reality' -- seems analogous to us being comprised of flesh and bones and a nervous system which are used to physically incarnate the ideas of ourselves onto this three-dimensional plane." -- Eddie Khanna, Glamourpuss #24

      It ain't easy finding a good container for th you you might be. You might finish reading 1000 books and find yrself dumber than when you started. You might get married, have a couple babbies, and float yr best dreams and (you hope) yr best DNA down river w/ th next generation. Yr sons and daughters now contain th YYMB for you, for themselves, and for any preceding generation who pursued this strategy. It happens -- Moses himself having never set foot in th Promised Land and all that. You might get a mentor, who might say something like,

"Empty your mind. Be formless, shapeless -- like water. Now you put water in a cup; it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle; it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot; it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend." -- Bruce Lee

-- which might or might not confuse you, depending on how comfortable you are w/ being both th container and th thing th container contains. He who submits absolutely to th will of God, as Islam demands, both assumes th shape of God's will and acts as a vessel for God's will flowing w/in him. He has to pray five times a day to keep that circular logic from burning a groove in his synapses. Fortunately or unfortunately for non-God-fearing types, secular containers have proven no less demanding. Consider late capitalism, consumerism, and th "nine"-to-"five" job. Consider yr social and professional reputations. Consider th voluntary jail sentences that constitute identity politics. Not to mention th smorgasbord of addictions available to us. Count how many times a day you "check e-mail" for work, or how many times for "pleasure" -- significantly greater than five, ain't thet right, dog. Those who don't choose a container will have one chosen for them.

"I was never a reader. I was arriving at conclusions almost independently of the entire history of the world. If I sat down to read everything that had been written -- I'm a slow reader -- I would never have written anything. My joy and my impulse was to get something down on paper myself." -- E.B. White

      Picture a God who hates writing and has never written a goddamn word. He's a lurker God, scrolling though his feed -- perhaps because he loves human beings, animals, planets, plants, and th universe in general -- perhaps because he can't take his eyes off of us because we're a good train wreck -- you don't know because he never says anything. He allows th Bible/Koran/Battlefield Earth to happen, neither confirming nor denying its contents because why not? It's hilarious. Picture a world wherein God never socializes w/ lower-level beings. Got it? It's no different from th world we live in.

"When you're talking about fighting, as it is, with no rules, well then baby you'd better train every part of your body!" -- Bruce Lee

      Keep reading; keep typing. There's no fucking rules, d00d. Sportscasters used to say about Michael Jordan, "You can't stop him. You can only hope to contain him." I feel th same way about th ocean, Satan, death, th future, th Internet, and meaning itself. Not even contain -- only hope to contain. Concerning Shaquille O'Neal: "You can't stop him. You can only foul him and hope to Jesus he misses his free throws." Note that certain people are simply too gigantic for rules. "There's no rules" means "Make rules to help you locate th YYMB because nobody else will do it for you". When God gives you a Shaq-size body, don't not wear pants. Wear Shaq-size pants.

"If a man gives you freedom, it is not freedom. Freedom is something you -- you alone -- must take. Do you understand? Well, you will, one day, because you’ve already started to think about it." -- José Dolores

      Th wife's away on business, and Kevin and I are using each other to contain our anxieties. An aluminum can next to my desk contains one half of a 12-oz Diet Dr Pepper. My stomach contains th other half. Th sky contains a familiar hot sphere whose surface temperature stays @ approximately 5778 Kelvins no matter how it feels down here. I refuse to tell you how it feels down here or anything else concerning today's weather. Words describing feelings may contain those feelings' opposites.

"For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught -- nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh Time, Strength, Cash, and Patience!" -- Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chapter 32

      If a man tells you he's dissatisfied, he may be trying to conceal his satisfaction.


      If a woman tells you you were in her dream being mean to her, it might mean she likes you. Test this hypothesis by asking her out on a date.

      "You were in my dream being mean."
      "Now what did ah do."
      "Well, you had a doppelganger who was exactly like you except nice, and we were stuck in Boobzone or a place very much like it, surrounded by 'cool' younger kids. I was enjoying the company of your doppelganger and spending more time with him than with you."
      "All right."
      "And then Idlewild came over to the house to be interviewed by one of the 'cool' kids, and she called them 'the new Idlewild' because Idlewild were like Menudo, and none of the original Idlewild members were in the band anymore."
      "What a nightmare this must have been."
      "I went in a room to get away from the new Idlewild. You suddenly appeared behind me and said, 'I'm tired of this.' Then you slapped me hard in the face, which is what woke me up."
      "Ah'd found out about th nice me, hadn't ah."
      "I think so. Maybe. I don't know. Actually, there's no reason not to believe the nice you was you, and the mean you was the doppelganger."
      "Which'd be worse: if ah was th mean one, or if ah was both th nice one and th mean one playing good cop/bad cop?"

personal belongings tetris
burned out smile

      Every time you feel happy, check inside that happiness for some sadness. Inside that sadness, check for more happiness. Check inside yr vanity for hidden humility.

      "Wife, tell me why that episode of Mad Men was th saddest one yet."
      "Because the women had to make tough decisions, and they all did the right thing but also the wrong thing."
      "But why should that be sad to me?"
      "Because each one of them disappointed Don, and he's the one you identify most strongly with."

key cubby

      Stare into a monolith and uncross yr eyes until a statue of a founding father pops out. Stare deeply into yr long hair and find therein a nice short summer cut.

length call
sga and chester
hair wife

      If you hold yr cat's head up to yr ear, you can hear th ocean on th nearest planet that has an ocean. Science soon will contain and neutralize this mystery, using th twin powers of popular interest and public television funding.

slanted and transplanted

      Eight episodes to go. I know, you can barely contain yrself.

travel wife

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09.  NANCY SINATRA "You Only Live Twice" (5.4 MB) -- Did you catch th season finale of Mad Men? Do you care more about Don Draper than you do about th overwhelming majority of yr Facebook "friends"? Were you disappointed by th ending? Did you unscrew th top of yr disappointment and reach in and find that you actually loved it? Did you mean to google th closing credits song and den forgot? Here's th radio version of that song, in which th fuzz guitar part is beefed up a bit. Written and arranged by John Barry, "You Only Live Twice" originally appeared over th opening credits of th 1967 James Bond film of th same name. Now in theory it might seem like a good idea to mirror th lyrics' parallel universes theme in th song's structure -- maybe play a somber verse against a more hopeful chorus, cut harmonic depression w/ melodic liveliness, or let a stomping beat punch through a heavy wall of sound -- and ah reckon there's a little of that going on w/ th guitar's faster melodic line racing ahead of Sinatra's singing -- but th overall effect is one of crushing sonic sadness. No single element -- not th Spector-ish beat, not th matter-of-fact singing, certainly not th tangled-up strings & horns, not even th jaunty guitar line -- is allowed to escape th song's overwhelming gravity. Only a mysterious magickal musical alchemy, a sneaking suspicion that th entire construction is a joke, and th brain's perverse despair-to-pleasure converter allow th listener to escape unharmed. In other words, it's a perfect song.

Bonus track:
RYE RYE "Boom Boom" (7.7 MB) -- Now try to find th melancholy hanging out inside this popular summer jam. Good luck, don't break yr ass trying to be as cute as Rye Rye.

651660 if i faq any harder we are going to be the same person

If you could enter any fictional realm, which would it be?


Halo there, old modern world. Today I decided to make a new "sticky post" -- that's that post that stays up @ th top of yr blogue, resisting th currents of history and neglect, a timeboat rising ceaselessly into today. My first sticky post -- posted back in 2004; postdated to 16 March 2012; edited five or six times since den; and last seen containing one picture of me upside down, one picture of Manila, one picture of Hicksville, and one picture of my cat upside down -- recently expired. I'd never planned to be around these parts in 2012, but it has taken me a lot longer to get to 660 diary entries than I thought it would. For those joining late, I'll explain in a minute, but first ...

Poll #1836250 earth two

... choose yr poison

Hogwarts and related territories
Star Trek universe
Star Wars universe
Shaolin (Staten Island)
Looney Tunes
Sailor Moon
Cougar Town and related territories

If other, what?

I don't remember when I began to fictionalize my own life. Certainly, I began telling lies about myself as a child, and it became clear early on that mixing liberal doses of true facts into my lies gave me credibility and other superpowers. But how I came to care about form and execution in make-believe? That moment is lost. It seems to me that I have always cared. W/ that in mind, please believe that my name is Mario, though many of my friends, especially on th Internet, call me MZA. I turned 39 on 16 March 2012, which makes me a year younger than Shaquille O'Neal, and 1.5 years younger than Dick Whitman @ th start of Season 5 of Mad Men. My gender is male, and my sex is a cock and balls. My location, if you're reading this prior to May 2012, is a real town named Hicksville, Virginia, a wealthy suburb of Washington, D.C. that is divided for dramatic purposes into Olde Hicksville (east) and New Hicksville (west). My location in May 2012 and beyond is America's flavour capital, New Orleans, Louisiana, a city I know everything about, if yr timing's right.

True unadorned facts
I'm a Filipino-American whose Tagalog is somewhere between rusty and too embarrassing to use. I'm a married heterosexual who looks up words he doesn't know how to spell. Filipinos represent a precise ethnic point two thirds of th way from Chinamen to Mexicans. For some years, I barely made a living by walking rich people's dogs and taking care of rich people's cats, w/ occasional forays into caring for rich people's birds, fish, ferrets, guinea pigs, and gerbils. I will define rich people liberally as anyone who can afford to own a new house in Hicksville, which ought to tell you as much about me as about them. Nobody else I know is more gifted than I am @ barely getting by. My B.A. in Anthropology from th University of Virginia has come in handy many times in comment threads discussing feminism, cultural relativism, post-structuralism, or Yanomami kinship.

Internet holdings
I joined th Internet in 2002 after an 11-year phase in which I thought,,, and e-mail were th Internet. Boy was my face red when somebody told me I could also look @ white porn stars and get music for free. Since joining, I have never left th Internet.
That's probably actually only th tip of th iceberg -- I didn't want to dig through old bookmarks looking for Bebo, Second Life, Multiply, Goatse Youth,, Habbo Hotel, etc.

"Pop­u­lar views of the mil­len­ni­al genera­t­ion, born in the 1980s and 1990s, as more car­ing, com­mun­ity-oriented and pol­i­tic­ally en­gaged than pre­vi­ous genera­t­ions are largely in­cor­rect, par­tic­u­larly when com­pared to ba­by boomers and Genera­t­ion X at the same age. These da­ta show that re­cent genera­t­ions are less likely to em­brace com­mun­ity mind­ed­ness and are fo­cus­ing more on mon­ey, im­age and fame." -- Jean Twenge

Th most famous thing I ever did
From May 1995 to May 1996, I lived in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, where my friends and I were in a v. exciting shitty rock band called Th Aga Muhlach Experience, about whose legacy I'm of two minds. On th one hand, there were many bands in Manila @ that time who had more talent than we had and who, under a meritocracy, would have received more attention than we did and gone on to greater fame and fortune. On th other, none of them were quite as photogenic or destruction-oriented as we were. Three fourths of Aga Muhlach went on to attain a day-job-quitting level of rock stardom as members of Sandwich. One fourth of Aga Muhlach went on to own a cat called Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine.

"Now of course it is true that a good critic may form a correct estimate of a book without reading every word of it. That perhaps is what Sidney Smith meant when he said 'You should never read a book before you review it. It will only prejudice you.'" -- C.S. Lewis

Recurring characters
As a 21st-century narcissist, I'd prefer that everyone consume my diary from start to finish w/ perfect attention and perfect memory. However, I understand that you, as a 21st-century narcissist, would not do that; and that if I really want to make my diary accessible to total strangers, I have to make it possible for a new reader to catch up in a hurry. Here then is a list of people who have made multiple appearances in th story thus far and whom you are likely to see again, roughly in descending order of frequency of appearance:
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When I say that these characters write themselves, go ahead and click on through their names for proof. Be ready to get lost.

"The premise of Shermer's book is that evolution left the human race with a tendency to make what he calls Type 1 errors -- false positives, or beliefs in things that don't exist. We also miss things that really do exist, which he calls Type 2 errors.

"Evolution favors Type 1 errors because Type 2 errors are more likely to get you killed. If the grass rustles, and there's a possibility it's a lion, those who wrongly assume it's nothing make a Type 2 error and end up as evolutionary dead ends. Those who tend to err the other way and imagine a few lions that don't exist make Type 1 errors and survive." -- Faye Flam, The Philadelphia Inquirer

My political party
These days I call myself a moderate, which is an easy way of saying that I don't mind getting shot @ by both liberals and conservatives. My novel is readable to either side because I have for th most part avoided making overt political statements. Not making overt political statements has itself been a marker of my politics. I have to admit, though, that I am a deeply racist, sexist, humanist person. That's right, I like to race around having sex w/ humans, even though I hate them. I think lions don't exist, which mostly has worked out fine, so far; and th most irritating part about th Internet to me is that everyone's a lion on th Internet. Everyone's going around going, "You know what you are? A fucking lion, that's what. Rroarr!!" All of that, that's just words. Do I think evil is real? Yup, ah've seen it up close; ah see it in me; ah see it in nice people. Social justice: attainable? Yup, but not by lions. Seriously, though, you will probably hear more about my racism, sexism, humanism, and lionism before this novel is over.

My novel
This is it. What you're reading now, this is my novel. This is not not a novel. Sometimes I refer to it as "my diary", "my Internet diary", or "my Internet novel". It's divided into 660 chapters or "entries", 651 of which have been written, as of this writing. When that number up top hits 660660, you'll know it's done. Some chapters are more well done than others. Some are burnt. Some are bloody. That's what happens when th boundaries of yr novel are porous, and bits of everybody's bloody mess leak in. I'm sick of my novel and am well ready to be done w/ it. However, more loosely speaking, my novel can never be done because it has links in it, and those links contain more links. Just as Kevin Bacon once invented cinema, I have invented literature. It's a real cliffhanger.

Here are numbers you will probably see a lot if you read my novel: 6, 7, 8, 16, 19, 33, 42, 49, 55, 66, 69, 80, 82, 87, 88, and 94.
lott spike
Legend: Julius Erving, number of main good guys in Star Wars, Steve Young, Joe Montana (Niners), Joe Montana (Chiefs), Patrick Ewing or Roger Craig, Ronnie Lott, San Francisco 49ers, Double Nickels on the Dime, convenient multiple of 33, upside-down sex act, Jerry Rice, John Taylor, Dwight Clark, Freddie Solomon, and Charles Haley. I no longer watch a lot of sports but still use sports numbers for powerful sorcery.

Best of
I have determined my novel's best-loved chapters, in precise order, using th most rigorous method available: whichever ones came to mind fastest.
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Get fictional
If th genius part of making fiction is inviting others into a world, th genius part of reading it is accepting that invitation. This is th social contract: never stop inviting, never stop accepting. Citizens of a cartoon had better know its physics.
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but enough about minelostcosmonaut
How's yr novel?

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10.  DONNY HATHAWAY "What's Goin' On" (7.9 MB) -- Hathaway did to this song what Gaye did to th U.S. national anthem: brought it back to his house and made you forget it's not his.